Continuing to serve the public in the midst of a pandemic
The call volume seeking medical assistance from Woodford County first-responders has not decreased, but also has not increased as local, state and federal leaders grapple with the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Freeman Bailey, director of Woodford County Emergency Medical Services. “We’re still going to take care of our public. We’re still going to take care of everyone … in this county,” said Bailey. “We’re putting plans in place to where if we do have people get sick,” he added, “that we’re prepared for that. That’s our big thing, is just trying to work out every scenario ahead of time before it gets to us.” He credited the Woodford County Health Department and Woodford County Emergency Management as well as state leaders for putting resources in place and educating people about the COVID-19 pandemic and why social distancing is important to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As for personal protective equipment (PPE), Bailey said his department pre-plans and therefore was well-stocked with masks, gloves, glasses and other PPE before the pandemic. He said anyone who calls 911 is asked a series of questions by the dispatcher so his paramedics and emergency medical technicians are informed if it’s a possible COVID-19 case – so they can put on personal protective equipment before they have contact with that patient. After the call, the first-responders disinfect themselves and all their equipment, including the truck used for the hospital transport, he said. Bailey applauded people across the community for “doing extremely well with monitoring themselves and following the guidelines that have been set up by the health department, federal government and EM (emergency management).” Calls for respiratory cases last week were typical of a normal week, Bailey said. He said many of those calls come from the same houses where they’re dispatched for respiratory issues several times a year. Even so, questions are still asked by the 911 dispatcher to determine if any of the criteria for COVID-19 exposure is met so first-responders can protect themselves with PPE if necessary, according to Bailey. “Luckily, so far we’ve had none that has met that (criteria),” he said last week. “… Everything has just been the normal cases.” Anyone in his department who feels sick is told to stay home, but fortunately they have remained well, he said. In addition to doing daily self-checks on each other, his paramedics and EMTs also practice social distancing recommendations of the state and federal governments, but are still answering questions by people in the community when asked, Bailey said. “We want everybody to understand we’re in an emergency, but we will get a solution to it,” he said. “We’ve got the best people in the world working on it.” People need to be patient, stay busy, spend time with their children, and go outside and play, he added. Asked about the anxiety people are dealing with because of the many unknowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bailey said residents can watch the daily briefings being conducted by Gov. Andy Beshear and those by President Trump and his team to “get live information as it develops.” “They’re combating this as hard as they can on every level so hopefully we’ll have an end to it soon,” said Bailey.