Virginia Beach EMS prepares for Ebola

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – On Tuesday, 10 On Your Side talked with a representative for some of the first healthcare workers a person infected with Ebola may come in contact with in Hampton Roads.

Emergency Medical Service (EMS) teams in Virginia Beach are increasing screening procedures for Ebola, and putting on protective gear. It’s only a precautionary step in the fight. So far, no one in Hampton Roads (or Virginia) has the virus. But, Virginia Beach EMS spokesperson Ed Brazle said they’re prepared for whatever may come.

“We’re constantly looking at, are there better tools, better things out there to put even more layers on?” Brazle said. “I really want to make sure our providers are confident and comfortable to be able to provide the service, but still go home safe and healthy.”

Maintaining a standard of care is important. Minimizing exposure to Ebola, though, can be a factor of life or death.

All ambulances in Virginia Beach now have full kits of protective gear, complete with gloves, gowns, extra sleeves, masks, and booties to cover shoes. Brazle said the risk of contracting Ebola is low, especially as they increase protection for workers who could come in contact with infected patients. However, he admits they’re still waiting to find out what happened to a nurse in Dallas who has tested positive for the disease after it seemed for a while everything was being done right.

In the meantime, their protection also now includes new questions asked when you call 911: “If you call and you say you have high fever and some other symptoms, they’re going to ask you, ‘have you traveled to West Africa recently?” Brazle said.

Their plans in place are similar to when the threat of H1N1 was top of mind, and he said this time of year only adds to their level of preparedness for whatever comes this way.

“Right now, flu season is out there, so we’re already thinking infectious diseases, already thinking of how to protect ourselves, so that’s a good thing for emergency responders,” Brazle said. “We’re already in that mode. There have been multiple meetings between EMS, Fire and Health, and just getting the latest information out there to our folks and working on contingency plans.”

He said they’re getting constant updates from the CDC. And once they hear exactly how that nurse in Dallas became infected, that information will help healthcare workers throughout the country tremendously moving forward.

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