First responders on the front lines face danger due to coronavirus pandemic

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Police, fire and EMS workers all help protect and save us, yet during the pandemic, they put themselves in even more danger.

We took a look at measures that are being taken to keep those who help the public stay safe.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office recently lost one of its own to COVID-19 and it is a somber reminder of just how dangerous it is for first responders on the front lines during a pandemic.

“We have had employees test positive, but we were not able to trace it back to a transport that we did,” said Gold Cross Director of Operations John Smith.

Gold Cross is one of many agencies in the CSRA with first responders making contact with people in their most vulnerable times during the coronavirus pandemic. Smith said since the coronavirus started, only 12 of the company’s 360 employees have tested positive and from what they know, it’s been outside the workplace.

“We’ve upped our quantities of masks like the N95,” he said.

Each worker is equipped with 10 times the normal supply of PPE. And when you dial 911, callers are screened and added to a system of potential COVID-19 patients.

“We walk in the house with masks on, goggles, gloves and we quiz the family again,” he said.

It’s a tough job. Richmond County Sheriff’s Office told NewsChannel 6 Sergeant Charles Norton died Sunday after complications with COVID-19.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree announced earlier during the pandemic that his office is closely following CDC, state and county health department guidelines. And even screening detention center inmates upon entering and if signs or symptoms develop after several inmates tested positive.

To mitigate the virus in any Gold Cross vehicle, there are devices that can kill any trace of it.

Smith told us, “Like someone we did CPR on or we gave them a breathing treatment in the back of the ambulance. We have two different types of machines. One goes in the truck and it sits and spays out a disinfectant. It kills COVID and flu. The other is a handheld sprayer. We get in the back of the truck and we spray everything.

And for added safety, Gold Cross works with GEMA so if they are dispatched to a home with current COVID-19 cases, they know ahead of time.

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