SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) — The coronavirus has turned the world upside down and nowhere is that felt more than on the front lines as a first responder.
Local fire chiefs and police chiefs tell News 2 the virus has changed one significant factor in response protocols.
Historically when there’s an emergency that requires both fire and police, police have traditionally gone in first to secure a scene before ems and fire crews enter. That’s still the case when the bullets are flying, but for many other calls, it’s now the other way around.
“It has. It has 100 percent flip-flopped,” Spring Hill fire chief Terry Hood says standing in front of Station 3 in Spring Hill.
Before coronavirus, police typically secured a scene then signaled for ems to enter.
Hood says it’s still that way on a hot call.
“In a hot call, nothing changes, p.d. goes in 1st and the f.d. goes in 2nd once the scene is secured.”
But on medical calls now, Hood says firefighters go in first and cops hang back waiting for the all-clear signal.
“We are taking care of them now so they are not walking into a hot environment. And if the PD comes in we have Tyvex suits and masks and gloves for them so they are not exposed to it,” said Hood.
Belle Meade Police Chief Tim Eads says his officers wait on the all-clear from EMS crews now. He says it is about safety but it is also about conserving hard to find personal protection equipment.
“There are shortages of masks and other things across the country. Most agencies have a very few of these masks. So, the priority for masks are for health care professionals and firefighters who have to get close to treat a patient. You have to treat a patient like everyone has COVID-19,” said Eads.
Eads says calls are down, but his officers are still making arrests. Hood says call volume is down for fires, but medical calls have remained steady.