CULLMAN, Ala. – Some of the perhaps most unsung heroes in the COVID-19 pandemic are the paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who make up Cullman Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
According to Cullman EMS Director James Curtis, his department runs 14 paramedics and EMTs per day in seven ambulances. In all, he said, 30 EMS employees have contracted COVID-19 this year.
So, what has changed in the department’s day-to-day operations due to COVID-19?
To keep its employees safe, Curtis said, “We have provided PPE (personal protective equipment) to the field crews and we use a COVID screening tool when taking 911 calls to alert the crews of any possible COVID-19 symptoms before they arrive on scene. We are using a fogger system to decontaminate the ambulances and have installed hand-sanitizing stations in each ambulance.”
Curtis said the pandemic has not changed the way in which EMTs and paramedics deal with patients.
“Nothing has changed other than we now have a COVID screening tool when evaluating patients,” he said. “We continue to provide care for the people of Cullman that need us – just as we always have and always will.”
Said James, “We have added the use of a fogger system to sanitize the ambulances and office space. The crews have a regular cleaning schedule to complete each day.”
Still, 30 Cullman EMS employees have contracted COVID-19 this year.
“A total of 30 employees have contracted COVID,” said James. “It is unknown if those were contracted while at work, but Cullman Regional has treated each of these as if it were a confirmed exposure at work and paid the employees while they are at home recovering. We follow the CDC guidelines for exposure and positive test results. Employees are sent home until they are cleared by our employee health nurse to return to work.”
Cullman EMS responds to emergency calls throughout Cullman County, and James has a message for the community.
“I want the community to know that we are there for them and will continue to be there during this pandemic,” he said. “We want them to be safe and follow the CDC guidelines for handwashing and wearing a mask while around other people in order to help slow the spread of this illness.”
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