First responders contracting COVID-19 despite taking precautions

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As some industries are able to work from home during the pandemic, first responders are out interacting with people who may have COVID-19. Some are testing positive despite the precautions they’re taking.

Samuel Scheller and his ambulance company Guardian Elite Medical Services are adjusting how they respond to emergency calls.

They’re now using isolation hoods while transporting patients.

“It allows them to cough and expel those respiratory droplets without getting on our providers,” Scheller explained.

Even with additional safety steps, a handful of his staff tested positive for COVID-19, with some going to the ICU.

“We’ve had some that’s ended up in quarantine after transporting patients that have COVID-19,” Scheller said. “So, we’ve had to plan for those staff members that are not available, along with maintaining our operational ready.”

Law enforcement agencies are also getting hit.

Overall, 182 Metro staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Deputy Chief Kelly McMahill says 131 of them are back at work.

“Erick Lloyd’s death shocked us all, it really hit us hard,” McMahill lamented, “Every last one of us because all of our officers and employees across the line, officers and civilians, have had extremely minor symptoms.”

At any given time, there may be 150 to 200 Metro employees that are not at work due to coming in contact with the virus or as they wait on test results.

“As we have officers go out, we have others that are coming back from quarantine or coming back from being sick,” McMahill said. “So, we’re okay on the operations side.”

The department is doing extensive contact tracing to stop any further spread of the virus. McMahill says they’re even watching body camera footage to assist in that effort.

Since the start of the pandemic, 20 Las Vegas Fire and Rescue employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

The City of Las Vegas says firefighters and paramedics are wearing full PPE when responding to calls.

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