De Pere Fire Rescue outfits ambulance for possible coronavirus calls

DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Local emergency crews are taking additional steps to protect themselves and patients from coronavirus.

De Pere Fire Rescue outfits ambulance for possible coronavirus patients. (WBAY Photo)

De Pere Fire Rescue says they've been averaging about two calls per shift for patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19--that's fever, cough and shortness of breath. They've also received calls from people who may have had exposure to someone with the virus.

De Pere Fire Rescue has designated one of their three ambulances for these calls. They've lined the inside of the patient compartment with plastic sheets. They use plastic to cover the opening between the patient area and driver area.

"We set up one of three ambulances with plastic on it to hopefully protect all of our equipment that we carry in the ambulance from getting any germs or viruses on it, and make it easier for the crews to de-contaminate the ambulance after each call," says Battalion Chief Luke Pasterski.

The department says they do not believe they have transported any patients who turned out positive for COVID-19.

As of this publication, there were three confirmed cases in Brown County.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says COVID-19 is spread via coughs and sneezes.

"This is similar to how influenza is spread. The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes, the virus can make them sick," says DHS.

CLICK HERE to track cases in Wisconsin.

CLICK HERE for Wisconsin's guide to COVID-19.

Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds, "It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

The CDC believes symptoms may appear between two and 14 days after contact with an infected person.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face.

Here's how you can prevent the spread (INFORMATION FROM DHS):

* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

* Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates, and nonessential appointments.

* Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

* Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

* Stay at least six feet away from other people.

* Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).

CLICK HERE for a guide on how to properly disinfect your surfaces.