How dispatchers help protect first responders during an outbreak

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Local first responders are taking extra steps to stay healthy while responding to medical calls during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District firefighters and medics are still working right now, as they are considered to be essential employees and their dispatchers helping protect them.

When people call into the dispatch center, they are asked specific questions about their symptoms to identify if they potentially have novel coronavirus. If a caller meets the criteria, medics suit up in gowns, masks and gloves before making any contact with them.

“The key to that is not exposing us and causing us to be infected with the coronavirus so that we can continue to provide our service throughout the county, because this is something that could last for weeks and months and we’re going to need all of our staff to get through this,” Metro Fire spokesman Chris Vestal said.

The department is also limiting how many medics come in contact with patients right now, sending as few people into homes as possible.

They are working closely with local hospitals to warn them when potential coronavirus patients are coming into emergency rooms.

Local dispatch centers are not allowing anyone other than essential employees inside.

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