Rural rescue squad seeing more calls due to coronavirus

The Crivitz Rescue Squad is averaging 75 calls per month with the recent spike in cases.
Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 10:40 PM CDT
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CRIVITZ, Wis. (WBAY) - As positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Wisconsin, some rural communities are starting to see more and more signs of the virus.

“They are just so weak, there’s just a look; you can almost tell from 10 feet away, I bet they’re going to test positive, and generally they do,” said Denise Busse, EMT coordinator for the Crivitz Rescue Squad.

On average the squad responds to 45-50 calls per month, but a spike in coronavirus cases has crews answering more calls.

“We’re running about 75 calls a month instead, so definitely an increase. That’s expected to go up, I think this month will be busier than that, closer to 100,” said Busse.

She says calls have been on the rise since August. According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health, positive cases spiked in Marinette County in mid September.

“Our area is kind of like the wild west, people kind of don’t necessarily believe they have to follow the mandates, or don’t think the mandates aren’t doing any good,” said Busse.

“It’s actually one of our scariest situations right now, if you think about it. In a rural area, we call them testing deserts. When you have to drive more than 20-to-30 minutes to get a test, that’s not handy. If it starts to spread very quickly, it’s hard to get people tested and get them isolated,” said Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea.

Which has members of the rescue squad taking every precaution.

“We’re always going in with eye protection, face shield, goggles, the gloves and a mask. If we get in there and find out they have COVID-19 symptoms we add to that a gown and an N95,” said Busse.

The rescue squad also has a small UV light to place inside the ambulance to disinfect it between calls.

“Besides wiping everything down with some heavy duty cleaners, we put that UV light in there and let it run about an hour,” said Busse.

She says personal protective equipment is still hard to come by, but are thankful for community donations which has helped keep everyone on the squad healthy.

“Thus far nobody has been sick, nobody has gotten their family members sick. With such a contagious disease, I think that’s great,” said Busse.

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