First responders innovate to expand COVID-19 safety measures

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Goggles, gowns and respirators masks are now part of the uniform for EMS workers in the Mat-Su Borough.

The team has had to come up with creative ways to protect themselves from coronavirus as there isn’t a universal solution when it comes to transporting someone who may have symptoms of the virus.

Battalion Chief Cory Sathers and his team have come up with what they call an “isolation pod.”

A disposable, plastic sheet can be draped down over the patient. The team has reducted the ventilation system so that workers are protected from the air around the transported person.

“The vacuum is going to pull everything out of the air and then the things that are too heavy to be pulled out of the air will drop the ground,” Sathers said.

The team is well-stocked on PPE and has made worker safety a priority.

“It's a safety risk for the community. If we start going down, then we're not there to be able to protect the community,” Sathers said.

“In order to address sickness or illness our staff may have, we have a very clear, delineated approach to how they handle it,” said Scott Williamson, the Deputy Chief of Mat-Su Borough EMS.

Williamson said that six EMS workers have tested for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure and they have all come back negative.