East Fork on front line of outbreak
East Fork firefighters implemented emerging infectious disease surveillance protocols during a response to a March 18 call in Minden .
With the first report of novel coronavirus in Douglas County, calls involving patients with respiratory distress put firefighters and medics on the front lines.
Douglas County Emergency Manager and East Fork Chief Tod Carlini said the ever changing dynamic of the outbreak is challenging the district.
“We are constantly having to make adjustments in our response and preparations,” he said.
On Friday, Gov. Steve Sisolak said the number of cases in Nevada shot from 64 to 109 in three days.
Starting midnight on Friday, he ordered all nonessential businesses to close or face legal action.
The governor said there is a severe shortage of supplies and tests to get ahead of the virus’ spread.
Of the state’s 5,000 acute care beds, 4,000 are occupied, leaving only 1,000 to deal with the sick.
Carson City Health and Human Services provides public health service to the Quad County area, composed of Lyon, Storey, Carson City, and Douglas counties.
“The incident management team assembled for this event is doing an incredible job, managing a multitude of issues, many of which develop and change in hours,” Carlini said.
East Fork has established several policies and has taken some immediate actions to assist with local issues.
The district has secured all of its staffed stations from public access and has eliminated all public use of their volunteer stations. The stations must be maintained for their primary responsibilities of housing response personnel and equipment. There are no exceptions, Carlini said.
The district office, located at 1694 County Road, will conduct business during regular hours, however, the facility will not be open to the public.
The office doors closed to the public on Thursday.
Anyone with business at the District Office must call for an appointment at 775-782-9040.
The District’s Fire Prevention and Inspection Division will still be accepting and performing plan reviews, however, plan submittals shall be by drop-off 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A bin will be provided outside of the main office doors to deposit plans and payment. All checks should be in an envelope and attached to the plans.
Credit card payments may be made by phone. Reviews won’t begin until payment is received. Plans will not be left in the bin for any length of time, but will be collected by district staff after their dropped off, with no public contact, during the above hours. Appointments with District staff shall be by phone only at this time and may be arranged through the main office at (775) 782-9040.
The District is recommending that persons should first contact the coronavirus hotline at 775-283-4789.
If you request emergency medical services via Douglas County 911, and District Firefighter-Medics arrive at your location, you may see them wearing additional personal protective equipment including gloves, eye protection or a face shield, an N-95 respirator mask and a gown. They may ask patients to wear a mask as well.
“It’s important to understand that because COVID-19 is airborne, simple surgical masks do not prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Carlini said. “However, a simple surgical mask will minimize or reduce some of the spread of germs, particularly in confined spaces where firefighter-medics are providing patient care (such as in an ambulance patient compartment).”
Family members will not be permitted to ride in the ambulance during a transport. Per East Fork’s standard operating procedures, ambulances and other equipment are decontaminated after every patient transport using a specific disinfectant.
The district is also working closely with area hospitals, long term care facilities, and other medical providers to better coordinate efforts.
East Fork employees were informed on the district’s position on administrative leave due to school closures and direction regarding the security of stations, apparatus, and health and safety precautions.
On Tuesday, the district board approved its tentative budget and capital improvement plan for next fiscal year.
“From the onset of this situation, our foremost concern has been protecting our employees and the citizens and visitors of the district while still providing the essential mission critical services in our charge,” Carlini said. “This is a serious public health emergency and I encourage everyone to follow the guidance from the CDC, State, and local officials. We understand that this a difficult time, which is why we all need to work together.”