Warren County EMS employees have been issued NR 95 facemasks to protect them from coronavirus exposure.
The department has 34 full-time employees and approximately 12 part-time. All were issued masks and strongly urged to wear them when they are offering medical assistance.
“It is not required, but highly recommend that a mask be worn,” said EMS director Preston Denney. “Every employee has been assigned a mask. They can’t be shared, but they can be reused by that particular person. We have enough in stock to replace everyone’s mask once.”
This is a change in policy due to coronavirus illness (COVID-19).
“We’ve always kept four on each ambulance, if they are needed,” said Denney. “This is the first time that masks have been highly recommended to be worn, and it is because of what’s going on right now with coronavirus.”
Symptoms in patients include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness.
Denney has also requested E-911 dispatch begin asking questions related to potential exposure.
“We want dispatch to revamp the questions that they ask,” said Denney. “We’ve been asking patients if they have been experiencing any of the symptoms associated with coronavirus, if they’ve been out of the country, or if they have been in contact with someone who has been. If dispatch asks those questions, we will have an idea before we get there if coronavirus is a concern.”
Due to the fear associated with the disease, more NR 95 facemasks are not readily available at this time.
“NR 95 masks are on backorder everywhere. We have one supplier that has promised to reserve us 50 masks. They are supposed to have theirs in this week. They agreed to hold 50 for us, but that’s all they would agree to hold. We have 200 on order from another supplier, but they are out and couldn’t give me a date when they would have any.”
The difficulty in finding more masks is not a concern at this time, said Denney, due to each employee having one mask, the extra masks on hand, and the 50 promised by that one supplier.