As residents in the region looks to do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus, law enforcement, fire and emergency services personnel in the Escalon area are among those taking extra precautions.
Firefighters, Escalon Community Ambulance and Escalon Police have all made modifications to their response protocols in light of the virus.
“We’re not responding to medical aid calls unless it’s life threatening or due to a criminal act,” explained Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges. “Basically we will now only respond to EMS calls if fire or ambulance requests us and my personnel will use the added personal protection equipment on any medical aid or coroner’s cases.”
Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said the extra precautions are also now commonplace for his crews.
“Any call with direct patient contact, we will use eye protection, either a face shield or glasses, a mask and gloves,” Mello explained. “We were also directed to treat any call we get as that person potentially having COVID-19.”
The ‘treat as if’ scenario is just to make sure firefighters take all required preventative measures.
As far as the department itself, the chief said they have postponed the business inspection program except for active re-inspections or those for new businesses.
“We are also trying to practice social distancing at the station,” he said of firefighters sharing the Coley Avenue firehouse. “We’re wiping down all contacted areas in the firehouse regularly and all the equipment.”
The weekly reserve drills, which would bring in more than the allowed number currently permitted for gatherings, have been discontinued for the time being.
Mello said the department has also put in a request for additional masks, gowns and eye protection, along with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.
He’s not sure, however, when those will arrive so crews are being judicious with their use but following the sanitizing protocols as closely as possible.
“It changes hour by hour,” Mello admitted of the rapidly moving pandemic.
At Escalon Community Ambulance, officials said they are also following the directives mandated through the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency, issued Friday, March 20. That includes using the masks, gloves and eye protection on every call. Additionally, EMS crews will use gowns on calls where the patient is coughing or showing signs of a fever.
Mello said while residents are working together in response to the pandemic, he also urged people to stay safe and, for the most part, stay home.
“It’s really important that people do what they can to stay out of the emergency health care system during this pandemic,” Mello noted. “In other words, avoid the river, high risk activities, don’t drink and drive, and try to stay home and practice social distancing, etc. The system is going to be stretched and we need all the help we can get.”