By now you certainly know all about the COVID-19 outbreak. There are at least 30 confirmed cases in Virginia. There is a lag in testing which leads us to believe prevalence is higher than the confirmations indicate.
Of concern for Wintergreen is the mortality rate by age group. The rate for persons in their 70’s is 8% and for persons 80+ the rate is 15%.
There is no vaccine currently available, tests remain very difficult to obtain, and personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns are currently not available. The very best course of action for our community is to maintain social distances and exercise hygiene practices just as you would during the peak of flu season. In fact, we’re still in flu season.
Typically, by now Wintergreen Rescue would have received a cache of personal protective equipment from government stockpiles. For this outbreak, we will likely not receive any such equipment. This means we must make our existing stock last as long as possible.
Over the coming weeks, the operation of Wintergreen Rescue will essentially slow down and become purposefully inefficient. Typically, when called to an address for a medical emergency a group of providers enter the address together carrying multiple bags of equipment. While we’re operating under COVID-19 conditions expect to see just one person enter a residence and likely with no equipment. This person will triage your complaint. If possible, patients will be asked to walk to the ambulance. This will allow the ambulance driver to stay away from the patient. The goal is to expose the fewest Paramedics and the least amount of equipment to a patient who may be carrying the virus. Low priority calls may also be placed in a que.
For persons unable to walk to the ambulance expect to see an odd bit of choreography among our staff. It’s likely that only one of our providers will be equipped with a mask. The provider without a mask will need to always be at the head of the cot so that a cough or sneeze is directed away from them and towards the masked provider who will be at the foot of the cot. The patient will also wear a mask. We have never operated in this manner. It will be slow, inefficient, awkward, and frustrating. We will get through it.
Wintergreen Fire & Rescue staff are in constant communication with the Health Department. We don’t need to live in fear. We don’t need to become prisoners of our homes. We do need to be smart. A person can be a carrier for up to 5 days before showing any signs of illness. If you’ve been following the news you may have noticed that handshakes have been replaced with “elbow bumps.” I’d suggest simply not touching one another and avoiding gatherings which aren’t essential. Soon enough this will be in the history books.
On a separate note, but certainly pertinent to this discussion, Nelson Cable has made provisions for any of their clients needing more bandwidth to facilitate telecommuting. You may read more about it at WTGPOA.Org.
It is my goal to update you each Friday, or more often as situations deem necessary.