EMTs taking 'better safe than sorry' approach to Ebola - WDRB 41 Louisville News

EMTs taking 'better safe than sorry' approach to Ebola

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- 'Better safe than sorry' is the motto at Metro EMS when it comes to Ebola preparations.

A set of procedures and training on how to wear protective gear is all part of Metro EMS's proactive way of protecting employees and patients should Ebola show up in Louisville.

"I think Ebola is a very low risk to our community, however we've ramped up our procedures and policies just in case it does show up," said Metro EMS Operations Manager Maj. Chad Scott.

The special response starts with a call to 9-1-1. Dispatch at MetroSafe has been trained to recognize calls that could be Ebola cases. If dispatchers believe it is a possible case, they immediately send an alert to EMS.

Once EMS employees get the alert, first responders enact the special protocol.

First, they put on personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes a full body suit, face mask, booties, and gloves.

The crew will then load in to a designated ambulance that has been completely covered in plastic.

"Any potentially affected body fluid is going to be contained in that ambulance and the plastic can be decontaminated and properly disposed of," said Scott.

Once they are with the patient and administering tests, responders will use information obtained in training to determine an initial diagnosis.

After they've written up a patient narrative on their tablets, special software scans the document for key words that have been linked to Ebola.

"What that software looks for is those specific words: Liberia, West Africa, certain symptoms like fever, nausea and vomiting," said paramedic Ben Neal. "It actually looks for those words and scans for those words every time we have a run."

If necessary, the software sends an alert to metro health officials.

"Even if we don't see an Ebola case in Louisville, it's great practice for our crews," said Neal. "Because there are so many other hazards that we face in this job."

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