First responders battle on when flu bug infects state

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jan 04, 2013

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)--Doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters all have a tough job without being sick with the flu.

But most are on the front lines when it comes to being exposed.

CBS 6 looked at how first responders are managing to stay healthy as Virginia is hit hard with the flu bug.

At VCU Medical Center, there are four simple steps employees are asked to follow, the first is getting a flu shot, then frequently washing their hands, followed by not coming to work when sick, and finally covering up when coughing or sneezing.

"I think when you give as much vaccine as we've done, talk to them about the hand washing, talk about staying away from work when you are sick," Dr. Frank Tororella, Director of Employee Health Services at VCU Medical, said. "I think that's successful."

Richmond Police said that with 750 officers and more than 200 support staff, they also push their employees to get a flu shot.

Major Steve Drew says that seems to be working but there is no shortage of cough drops and hot tea in the department.

Captain James Mellon, with Henrico County Fire and EMS said their department has had  to pull in a couple of firefighters for overtime to fill in for some firefighters on sick leave because of the flu.

But overall, most hospitals in Central Virginia and Richmond Ambulance Authority said that flu vaccinations are keeping their staff on the job.