Volunteer first responders eye Coronavirus protective measures

Know symptoms of coronavirus before calling 911

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - They don’t ask for money, but sometimes they don’t have any idea what they’ll be exposed to when they go to a medical call, a wreck, or a fire.

“We get everything. We’ve gone out to a toothache before. Anything anyone considers an emergency, we get a 911 call and we’ll respond to it."

Jackie Squires is the chief at Star Volunteer Fire Department, and he’s talking about the things people call 911 about. Like so many other volunteer departments in the state, Star’s firefighters and medical first responders are responding to 911 calls for minor AND major situations. Sometimes it’s a stubbed toe. Sometimes is trouble breathing, high fever, or a cough -- all flu-like symptoms, but also symptoms of Coronavirus.

With Coronavirus on the way, it’s probable that those volunteers could be responding to someone who is infected.

“Main concern would be that they would go into a residence somewhere that somebody’s got it and contracting the virus and getting put out of service," Squires said. “They also run the risk of taking it home to their families.”

Rankin County EMS coordinator Brian Grantham said on a normal day, personal protective equipment, or PPE, is a must, but with things like the flu and Coronavirus in the headlines, there’s extra emphasis put on it.

“As with all communicable diseases, anytime they respond out on a call, they’re going to have the PPE on already," Grantham said. "We’re just making sure they emphasize that they have that type of equipment on them, Be able to get to it, access it if they need to.”

Squires said hopefully his first responders will have the information they need from dispatchers going into the calls. Part of that rests also on the people who call 911.

“They’re running high fever, they’re having trouble breathing, aching, seems like flu symptoms. Well, that’s going to clue us that we should be more cautious with the coronavirus going on.”

Copyright 2020 WLBT. All rights reserved.