I-Team: Inside look at local first responders dealing with COVID-19

I-Team

HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — We’re getting an inside look at what it’s like being an EMT during the time of COVID-19. Hundreds of first responders across the Las Vegas valley received the first doses of their vaccine Monday.

This comes as the I-Team has learned 911 calls are actually down during the pandemic, but EMTs say there is no reason to worry about calling them.

“Being able to get to this point is truly a change in that tide, so to speak,” said Glen Simpson, director of special operations for Community Ambulance.

It’s the first dose of hope in Henderson.

“These are people that put themselves in danger every day,” said Ryan Turner, division head of emergency management for the City of Henderson.

About 1,000 police officers, firefighters and EMTs in the city got the first dose of the COVID vaccine at Community Ambulance.

“The opportunity to provide some kind of vaccination to them to provide clarity for not only themselves, but their families, is important,” said Turner.

Simpson was one of the first to get his shot. He says COVID has changed the way his team responds to a call.

“Every time you call 911, your call is being screened,” Simpson explained. “And if you screen positive for COVID, we do that so we can alert our responders, so when they arrive, they can already take additional steps to protect themselves and certainly the patients.”

He tells the I-Team call volume is down as much as 30% since the start of the pandemic, not because people aren’t sick, but there are fewer tourists in town.

And, “we think that’s because people are worried about catching COVID in the back of the ambulance or catching COVID at the hospital,” said Simpson.

He says it is safe. Ambulances are sanitized and put through an additional UV light process.

Now protected against the virus, they are going full circle. These first responders will be able to work to get it out to the rest of us.

“Being able now to administer vaccines to our own and other tier groups, it’s certainty; it’s part of why we get into this business,” said Simpson.

He says there’s no reason to be concerned about calling 911, so do so in an emergency. The city will continue to vaccinate its first responders through the end of the week.

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