Protective medical gear. Photo credit: newyork.cbslocal.com
East Greenwich fire and police are preparing for the possibility of dealing with someone who’s got Ebola, the rare and deadly virus, following incidents of the disease in Texas.
If someone reports flu-like symptoms, especially fever, “we’re stopping at the front door and asking if anyone’s been traveling in the past 21 days out of the country,” said Fire Chief Russell McGillivray Monday.
Traveling from specific areas, that is. McGillivray shared information from the Rhode Island Dept. of Health:
“In Rhode Island, only people who have been in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the past three weeks are at risk of developing Ebola.Even if someone has relatives in Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone, they are NOT at risk for developing Ebola if they have not traveled to one of these countries in the past three weeks.”
In the unlikely event someone in East Greenwich does contact EG police or fire officials with fever and/or flu-like symptoms and HAS been recently been in any of those three countries, McGillivray said they now have a protocol.
“Fever is the big one, and then travel,” he said. “If you put those two together … we kind of back up, warn the hospital that we’re coming and that we limit who touches you. We limit where you go. And then we get you to the hospital.”
Fire officials already had protective gear – gowns, masks, goggles, gloves – but the procedures are stricter.
“There’s a lot more safety built into it. When you get to the hospital, you’re segregated. We don’t want you traipsing through the emergency room, we don’t want you touching everything in the truck. So we’ve just got procedures to protect us.”
That said, McGillivray and Police Chief Steve Brown said it’s more about awareness and common sense.
“The Department of Health will tell you – over 50,000 people died last year of the flu in America. We’ve had one person die of ebola. We want to be ready but we don’t want to panic,” McGillivray said.