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EMS First Responders Seeing Major Decline in Calls Due to COVID-19 Fears

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DES MOINES, Iowa — According to the Des Moines Fire Department, there has been about a 25 percent decrease in calls for service due to the fear of contracting the coronavirus.

“EMS services has actually slowed down with patients that we’ve been transporting or responding to. A lot of that is probably a probably a little bit of a fear of not wanting to go into get checked out just because they don’t want to catch the virus,” Lieutenant Tony Speseto with Des Moines Fire, EMS division said. “We definitely want to encourage people that if they are having, you know, medical problems such as chest pain or signs of stroke or some of those more serious things that they that they call us.”

First responders are taking extra precautions and following strict CDC guidelines to protect themselves and citizens from contracting the virus.

“At a minimum, will be showing up on every single call with goggles, a mask and gloves,” Lt. Speseto said. “We’re going to ask patients to put a mask on as well and we’ll provide that mask.”

Lt. Speseto said they will also sometimes wear Tyvek suites if needed. Also, if they end up helping a citizen who is deemed potential for COVID-19, they will take the ambulance out of service for a period of time while their hazmat team decontaminates the vehicle. The department also tries to get as much information as possible before responding to a call.

“We’ve had to develop and put plans in place to sort of vet some of those patients prior to getting to the scene so we kind of know a little bit about what we’re walking into. We don’t we don’t always know 100 percent what we’re walking into, but we can try to, you know, check some of that off a little bit at the beginning,” Lt. Speseto said.

This week is National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. It recognizes those in the medical profession who are working the frontlines, especially right now during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday the Des Moines police department confirmed three of their firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19. They are the first to test positive in the city’s department.

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