Richmond first responders: We’re ready for Ebola threat

Posted at 7:04 PM, Oct 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-17 20:10:19-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- With the spread of the Ebola virus in West African countries comes the worry that the virus could somehow spread to people living in Central Virginia.

"It's always in the back of my mind that I could know somebody that's affected by it or somebody that I've seen around,” Bianca Rogers said.

Daniel Brisbane said he is also worried but admits that he feels safe because of how far Central Virginia's location.

And safety is the first priority for area fire and emergency personnel that would have to respond to the Ebola virus.

"We practice universal precautions every single day with the line of work we do,”Hanover Battalion Chief Jason Williams said.

Williams said that his department is following strict CDC guidelines on how to handle to the deadly disease.

"If the patient tells the 911 dispatcher the they're having flu-like symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, sweating…stomach cramps things like that….coupled with recent travel from West Africa,” explained Williams.

From there, EMS workers would get suited up with a protective gown, mask, goggles and gloves. And any open areas of the body would be covered before treating an infected patient.

"Obviously, we want to take care of our patient, but e also don't want to do it at the risk of their safety,” Richmond Ambulance Authority Infection Control Officer Bryan McRay said.

McRay said that removing the equipment is just as important.

And the agency is adding another layer of protection by sealing the inside of an ambulance with plastic and duct tape, before isolating the patient.

"This is just a new threat, a new risk to the population. And so we have to make some adjustments with anything else and that's what we're doing,” McRay said.

And that's comforting for the public who appreciate the job of those first responders.

"I know that they're putting their life on the line because they could get sick,” Brisbane said.