How COVID-19 is impacting first responders

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)–Businesses, schools and events are getting canceled and closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, and first responders are also taking action.

“We have to plan accordingly just in case our own personell get sick and we can’t staff so that we can draw on each other and cover the calls in the city appropriately,” said Assistant Fire Chief of the Lansing Fire Department, Mike Tobin.

The assistant chief added that are planning for if the virus gets more severe in the area.

“Normally we run five ambulances per day, we’re looking at models of running a potential fifth, sixth, or a sixth, seventh or eighth if we have to, also maybe eight cars to just go an evaulate people to determine if they have to go to the hospital,” said Tobin.

He added that 9-1-1 dispatchers are also asking additional questions to callers.

“Obviously with the basics, are you having problems breathing, have you traveled recently, is anyone in your household ill, the big one is do you have a fever, that’s a big one that comes along with COVID-19,” said Tobin.

Meanwhile, the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office has decided to not respond in person to certain non-emergency calls to limit person to person contact.

“Any non-emergency call for service that we take that is determined under the deputies presence is not required and will be taken by telephone,” said Sergeant Keith Hansen with the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office.

Meridian Township Police are also taking similar measures.

Shiawassee Sheriff deputies are also taking additional precautions when making arrests.

“Anybody that is taken into custody, will be given a medical screening, and if they do exhibit any kind of signs associated with the coronavirus, they will be given proper medical treatment as well,” said Hansen.

While fire and rescue crews do have to respond to calls in person, they are also making plans to make less contact.

“If someone does call and we have any suspicions, we may only send one or two crew members to the house and hold two or three people outside until we determine the need for additional people in to limit exposure,” said Tobin.

Overall, Tobin says the public should not panic.

“I think we’re going to ride this one out okay, it will take alittle time, but we’ll be fine,” said Tobin.

Tobin added that if you do think you are sick, they do not recommend calling 9-1-1. Instead, he suggested you stay home, or call your primary care physician. He added that when it comes to health concerns of having a hard time breathing, chest pain or a medical emergency, you should then call 9-1-1.

There are now 25 presumptive cases of coronavirus in Michigan.

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