COVID hits ambulance service
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics with the county’s emergency medical services are taking COVID-19 even more seriously after a Hillsboro EMT was diagnosed with the virus and a Hillsboro paramedic found out he had been exposed.
Emergency medical services director Travis Parmley said the Hillsboro EMT tested positive Sept. 14.
The health department put the EMT into isolation and four others working the same shift into modified quarantine.
Modified quarantine allows people to go to and from work, but nowhere else, as long as they remain asymptomatic, Parmley said. At work, they must remain apart from each other and wear masks.
“While we are at work we are wearing surgical masks at all times,” Parmley said.
The EMT was cleared to return to duty Sunday.
On the same day, the paramedic, who was scheduled to work Monday, found out he had been exposed to COVID-19 Sept. 9. Delayed test results caused the earlier exposure to be discovered days afterward.
The person who exposed the paramedic has already been cleared to return to work.
The earlier exposure doesn’t extend the modified quarantine because the other employees are “contacts of contacts,” Parmley said.
Since March, EMS personnel have worn masks any time they are in contact with patients, and when they are working with a known COVID-19 patient, they wear full personal protective gear.
The EMT had transported a known COVID-19 patient soon before he was diagnosed, but since he was in full protective gear, neither gave the virus to the other, Parmley said.
“Now if they go to the grocery store, they’re going to be wearing a mask,” Parmley said. “If there are two of them in the ambulance, which there always are, they will be wearing masks.”
All four who were put into modified quarantine have been tested twice with negative results, he said.
The paramedic had another negative test Monday.
“He has the best interests of patients in mind, I have the best interest of patients in mind,” Parmley said. “If he has even a sniffle, he’s going home.”
Parmley said he wants the public to know that when EMS transports a known COVID-19 patient, the ambulance is sanitized upon return to the station.
Last modified Sept. 23, 2020