BULLHEAD CITY — Bullhead City Fire Department personnel are following recently implemented procedures when they respond to calls involving potential COVID-19 patients.
The information is based on portions of memoranda sent to BCFD personnel and was included in the information package provided to BCFD board members at Tuesday’s meeting.
The BCFD’s medical director advised that patients with signs and symptoms of potential COVID-19 who “refuse to wear a surgical mask or non-breather, can be considered a refusal to treat and transport.”
Personnel on scene would make such a decision only with online medical direction, however.
Transporting family members of patients in the ambulance is discouraged “unless necessary.” In those instances, relatives need to wear masks and be given information so they understand the risk for potential exposure.
If dispatch reports that the patient might have COVID-19, BCFD personnel should put on appropriate personal protective equipment before coming in close contact with the patient. The extra items include a respirator or face mask that provides a higher level of protection.
When responding to a call for which no such information is provided, personnel should check if the patient has symptoms of a respiratory infection and respond accordingly. This includes making an initial assessment of the patient’s condition from at least 6 feet away — if possible. They are to continue making minimal contact with the patient until that person has on a face mask.
If COVID-19 is suspected, personnel is to don appropriate personal protective equipment. Otherwise, standard procedures for patients with respiratory infections is recommended.
The patient should be outfitted with a face mask, which can be placed over a nasal cannula. An oxygen mask, if needed, is considered an alternative covering for the patient.
For a patient that requires intubation, there are additional precautions that need to be taken to avoid creating aerosol spray from the patient that could carry the virus.
What composes a complete outfitting of personal protective equipment when dealing with patient who might have COVID-19:
Eye protection, goggles or a disposable face shield, that fully covers the front and sides of one’s face.
Disposable patient examination gloves. A second pair should be put on if the first becomes torn or heavily contaminated.
Disposable isolation gown.
Respiratory protection — an N95 mask.
Other precautions are directed toward ambulance attendants. There also is a set of procedures on how to clean and prepare ambulances before taking them out on another call.
All first responders are reminded not to touch their faces and to perform proper hand hygiene.
As the landscape changes and new directives come from the CDC, state health and other agencies, information is shared and procedures updated based on that information, Fire Chief Patrick Moore told board members.
BCFD personnel meet regularly with health and government agencies to keep abreast of the latest news and events pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak, he added.
A more recent memo with updated procedures also was included in the board packet. Procedures in earlier memos remain in effect.