The dog days of summer are upon us.
Long, hot days. Beaches. Poolside afternoons. The return of restaurants and bars.
It's easy to think that COVID is gone, faded off into the sunset like the star of a B grade Western movie. It isn't.
COVID is alive and well... And spreading.
In the beginning, when COVID was new and scary, we were worried. We were vigilant. We worried about having enough PPE. We worried about going home to our families. We stripped down and changed clothes outside. We slept in separate beds. Some of us quarantined from our families. We demanded action. We wanted the maximum PPE and looked with envy on the new stories from China featuring hospital workers in full body protective gear.
We have been lucky to be in a state that took extreme measures and was able to get the epidemic under control. We endured isolation, school closings, shortages of everything and in the end achieved stabilization of cases. We got to open back up. Gyms, restaurants and stores are back in business. We go to the beaches and parks. We have enjoyed a feeling of semi-normalcy.
But COVID is still here.
As of 7/31/2020 Rhode Island has seen 18,950 confirmed COVID cases and over 1000 people have died with COVID infection. Across the country fire fighters have contracted COVID. Over 5000 of them. 50 have died. In many states cases are increasing dramatically.
We are seeing a huge decline in the use of PPE by EMS and fire crews. This has led to multiple recent incidents where entire crews have had to quarantine after exposure to COVID+ patients without PPE. Masking and social distancing are nearly non-existent in the station. Personnel are forgetting to wear maximum PPE on codes and needlessly exposing themselves, their families, their stations.
It is unfortunately just a matter of time before an agency loses an entire station for 14 days from exposure to an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic on-duty crew member.
COVID is everywhere. Ask any of your friendly neighborhood ER docs- since this started we have seen ALL types of patients come to the hospital that are COVID+. Healthy motorcycle accident? Stroke? Chest pain? Intoxicated? Psych? Yup....we see all of these come back COVID+. The dispatch screening tool does not catch any of these.
WEAR YOUR MASKS, BE VIGILANT. Please. So we don't have to support your family through your extended illness. Watch you be put on a ventilator. Watch you lose your mother/father/husband/wife and have to wonder if it was you that exposed them. PPE works. I have personally cared for dozens, perhaps hundreds of COVID patients. Thanks to my PPE I have not gotten ill (and I now have the negative antibody test to prove I haven't been infected). Please, just do it.
For EMS leadership: Do not underestimate your role in this. Model and mandate masking when social distancing is not possible. Encourage staff to remain vigilant. We are in this together and need to hold each other accountable.
This video was produced by the Dallas Fire Department. Please watch and share. COVID is real. Masks work. N95, goggles, gloves and gowns are mandated on all cardiac and respiratory arrests. Be safe. Do not become a victim of complacency.
You would never go into a fire without your safety equipment. COVID is an invisible fire. ANY patient you see may have it. Young, old, sick or not. Protect yourself, your families, your brothers and sisters. Wear your masks. Wear your eye pro. WEAR YOUR MASKS.
**Special thanks to our friends in Dallas for producing and allowing this powerful video to be widely shared. **