Immediately following the announcement last week of a suspected and then confirmed case of an Ebola Virus patient in Dallas, emergency responders from the Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) took proactive steps to ensure the highest possible level of safety for citizens and responders.
On Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 2, personnel from AVFD joined other emergency responders and health care professionals from around the state for a briefing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During that briefing, the CDC stressed that the likelihood of contracting Ebola is extremely low unless a person has direct unprotected contact with the blood or body fluids (like urine, saliva, feces, vomit, sweat and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola or directly handles bats or nonhuman primates from areas with Ebola outbreaks.
“It is important that individuals not panic”, said Sean Conley, assistant chief of emergency medical services for AVFD. “Taken into perspective, the CDC reports that over 53,000 people die each year from Influenza and Pneumonia, whereas Ebola has so far only claimed one victim here in the United States.”
AVFD has implemented a response plan starting with the initial call to 911; according to Conley, “our dispatchers have been trained to ask certain questions when someone complains of general illness or flu like symptoms. That information is then pushed to the responders as an alert.”
Once alerted, the responder will follow a set protocol that will protect the responder, patient and future caregivers. “These protocols and procedures are no different than precautions that we would take with a patient with flu, tuberculosis or other infectious disease,” Chief Conley also stated.
In addition to implementing a response plan to deal with potential Ebola patients, reduce or prevent exposure to its responders, and maintain the integrity of our response system, AVFD will also continue to maintain daily awareness of the Ebola situation through its partnerships with regional, state and federal agencies. Going forward, AVFD will amend its response plan as warranted by the circumstances.