Firefighters and EMS workers preparing for flu outbreak

Reported by Tim Miller email
Posted by Kate Oatis email

TOLEDO (WTOL) - Our firefighters and paramedics could be the first to come into contact with someone who has the swine flu.

Anticipating that, firefighters at the Toledo Fire Dept. and volunteer firefighters are preparing themselves.

In maybe the first training session of its kind in our area, Richfield Township's assistant EMS chief told fire and EMS workers what to do if a swine flu victim needs to be transported to the hospital.

They're told to first ask the patient if he or she has a fever or has been in contact with anyone else who is sick.

"If you use the proper procedures, your risk factors are a lot lower. I'm confident that we'll be able to handle the situations as they arise," said Denise Farley, assistant EMS chief.

EMS workers are quick to point out they are committed to using safe procedures.

"Our safety comes first, their safety comes second but we will do everything possible to give them all the care that they need," said Tom Shambarger, assistant fire chief.

They also learned that disinfecting is more important than ever.

"This could be teaming with virus if you've just had a patient on there right?" said Pete Ball, EMS captain. "It certainly can be, everything from the handrails to the cot itself. It's just not safe enough just to change the sheets out anymore."

But there are prescriptions that can help.

James Pharmacy in north Toledo has two medications that would shorten the symptoms.

""As soon as someone starts feeling the symptoms, especially if they get on the Relenza or the Tamiflu within 24 hours," said Keith Barga, pharmacist.

Hand sanitizers are a good idea, too, we're told.