News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Local healthcare providers act on COVID-19

Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District personnel are preparing for the possibility that infected patients may call 911 and request ambulance transport to the hospital.

The Fire District has recently provided enhanced training for its emergency responders on appropriate infection control measures, including personal protective equipment and safe work practices. The Fire District has also made some operational changes to protect emergency responders.

When firefighter/paramedics respond to 911 calls for patients with flu-like symptoms, they will take extra precautions including wearing a protective mask and gown, or similar protective clothing. The extra precautions are designed to protect firefighter/paramedics from contracting the flu or other viruses like COVID-19.

Fire Chief Roger Johnson said, “We are following recommendations and guidance from the CDC and Oregon Health Authority on how to best protect our emergency responders. We are trying to avoid a situation similar to Washington, where 30 first responders were quarantined after treating a COVID-19 patient.”

The Fire District provides fire protection to more than 55 square miles of Sisters Country and also provides ambulance services to 800 square miles of territory.

“Losing even a few firefighter/paramedics or volunteers to a quarantine would create a problem for the Fire District,” he said.

The Fire District has not seen an increase in 911 calls in the past month but is prepared should COVID-19 appear in the region. Chief Johnson said, “Our people are very well trained, we have implemented policies to limit potential exposures to our responders, and we have sufficient protective supplies on hand.”

St. Charles Health System is now restricting the number of access points at each facility effective Wednesday morning, March 4. The intent is to have patients, caregivers, providers and vendors enter facilities through a limited number of access points to keep the workforce safe and functioning as this public health issue continues to grow.

At each access point, St. Charles will be:

•?Requiring individuals to adequately sanitize their hands.

•?Requiring masking if a patient presents with a fever, cough or cold symptoms.

•?Controlling access for visitors, caregivers and providers who present with a fever, cough or cold symptoms (this means we may not allow people into the building if they could spread infection, but are not in need of medical attention).

The Centers for Disease Control continues to stress the importance of hand-washing. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

•?Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

•?Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

•?Stay home when you are sick.

•?Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

•?Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.


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