Tags: Coronavirus | George Floyd Protests | emt | police | paramedics | firefighters

Pandemic and Protests Pose New Risks for EMTs

police and paramedic in a yellow vest carry a protester who fainted in the road
Police officers and paramedics carry a demonstrator who fainted at a makeshift memorial to George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Kerem Yucel/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 15 June 2020 10:51 AM

It’s a dangerous and uncharted territory for paramedics and other emergency medical technicians who have been stretched beyond normal limits during protests while maintaining their personal safety during the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Kaiser Health News, emergency medical services officials have been forced to figure out ways they can wear their personal protection equipment in a crowd and switch to defensive gear to ward off bullets, rocks or tear gas.

“I don’t think there was a rule book for me really to figure out what we’re gonna do,” said Brent Stevenson, assistant chief of the Denver Health Paramedic Division. Experts said that EMTs are also battling extreme fatigue. Dallas EMS deputy chief Tami Kayea told Kaiser Health News that her crews have worked daily over the past few weeks.

Another factor adding to the mayhem and potential danger is that protesters in large crowds mistake EMS personnel for police officers, even though they have the word “medic” on their vests. Firefighters in Sacramento now wear bright yellow fire jackets to set them apart.

And then there’s the chaos itself which hampers medical teams from assisting victims. When a sick person needs help, the crowded environment makes it extremely difficult for medical teams to locate the person, according to Kaiser Health News.

“You don’t know where you’re at. You don’t know what’s going on because you’re out in public,” said Wes Hopkins, a division chief for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services in Texas. He told Kaiser Health News that he made sure his team packed extra gear and took frequent breaks throughout the day to wash their hands, eat and hydrate during a recent protest.

EMS1, the leading online resource for the EMS community, recently updated its recommendations on how to handle mass gatherings and public events to include a section on dealing with crowds during the COVID-19 crisis.

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It's a dangerous and uncharted territory for paramedics and other emergency medical technicians who have been stretched beyond normal limits during protests while maintaining their personal safety during COVID-19. According to Kaiser Health News, emergency...
emt, police, paramedics, firefighters
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2020-51-15
Monday, 15 June 2020 10:51 AM
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