Local firefighters adapting new safety measures amid coronavirus outbreak

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Just as firefighters spend their days protecting us, crews are now learning how to keep themselves safe during a 911 call amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We just want to take every precaution we can to try and limit our exposure but we are not going to stop helping the public," said Chief Kerri Donis with the Fresno Fire Department.

According to Chief Donis, crews have been instructed to wear an extra layer of safety equipment, including a mask, as well as ask the proper questions when responding to an emergency call.

"We are really being more proactive and asking our patients if they have some symptoms and are concerned about COVID-19, and we're asking them to put a mask on and we'll hand them a mask," she said.

Departments in the South Valley are taking extra precautions as well. Tulare County Fire recently purchased special suits to be worn when responding to a call that may be associated with a person dealing with COVID-19-like symptoms.

"Basically they're respiratory protection, skin protection, eye protection to avoid any negative fallout from patient contact," said Chief Charlie Norman with the Tulare County Fire Department.

Despite the changes in procedure, fire officials say they don't expect to see a delay in response times

"We still have a mantra to get there within four minutes if possible from the time the call comes in and we start rolling," Chief Donis said.

Departments are also using social distancing both while at fire stations and while responding to the call.

Stations also they are disinfecting all equipment and firehouses in between calls.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to abc30.com/coronavirus/.
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