Gloucester County Emergency Response is taking precautions during COVID-19 pandemic
(Clayton, NJ)—The Gloucester County Department of Emergency Response has implemented additional safety precautions to ensure responders and residents are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gloucester County EMS (GCEMS) response vehicles (ambulance, Quick Response Vehicle and Supervisory vehicle) continue to be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) consistent with CDC recommendations and New Jersey Department of Health and Office of Emergency Medical Service regulation.
“All staff members have immediate access to this PPE should we encounter a patient with symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” said Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger.
Squads are prepared for the possibility of being exposed to COVID-19 and have made the necessary contingency plans to update their staffing plan and unit deployment as needed in response to staffing ability, 911 call volume and hospital turnaround times.
“A number of GCEMS staff members have cancelled travel plans and provided additional availability for shift assignments if needed,” Freeholder Director Damminger added.
In order to keep our responders safe if they encounter a COVID-19 case, the Gloucester County Emergency Response Center has updated the 911 call triage process to look for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough and respiratory distress – flu like symptoms).
“If symptoms are consistent, all responding agencies will be notified by dispatch. Responding GCEMS crews then don the appropriate level of PPE consistent with CDC recommendations prior to making patient contact with the patient,” said Freeholder Dan Christy, Liaison to Emergency Response.
When EMS encounters a patient with COVID-19, only one provider should make physical contact with our patient until the appropriate level of care and PPE are determined. All other responders will remain a distance of 6 feet or greater from the patient as consistent with aggressive social distancing practices.
“Once the symptoms determined to be consistent with COVID-19, GCEMS notifies the receiving emergency department prior to the departure for specific instructions on patient transfer,” added Freeholder Christy.
The GCEMS is working closely with Gloucester County’s Department of Health and Office of Emergency Management during this time to ensure the safety of our residents.