HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The coronavirus outbreak means those calling 911 will be asked more questions after an ambulance is dispatched.
If the patient has flu like symptoms or traveled recently, the paramedics will put on a medical gown and glasses in addition to the regular gloves and mask before making contact.
In early February, the new protocols were added as the virus started to spread nationwide.
“It’s the fear of the unknown,” said Ian Santee, deputy director of Honolulu Emergency Services.
Honolulu paramedics took the elderly man who tested positive for coronavirus to the hospital Saturday but none of them needed to be placed in self-isolation because they wore the appropriate equipment.
If the paramedics suspect the patient is infected, they will also notify the ER ahead of arrival.
After the patient has been transported, the gown, glasses, mask and gloves that were used by the first responders are placed in a biohazard bag for disposal.
The ambulance equipment is then sanitized. That cleaning process was already routine, but EMS says additional time is given now because of the outbreak.
All these steps are needed to prevent the rescuers from catching coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The protocol, officials say, also protects their families and other patients who are treated and transported in the same vehicle.