Menlo Fire’s Pandemic Emergency Response Unit goes in service

by Contributed Content on March 22, 2020

Captain Paramedic Jason Martin and Engineer Carlos Carpenter became the first two firefighters to staff the Menlo Park Fire Protection District’s new Pandemic Emergency Response Unit. Perhaps the first of its kind in the nation, this unit will only respond to all suspected COVID-19 incidents in the Fire District.

As a result, hopefully only two personnel per day will come into direct contact with suspected COVID-19 patients. Individuals on this specialized unit will be using the highest level of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and personal protective equipment (PPE) on each call, along with minimizing contact time that should help decrease the potential for exposure. Decontamination prior to leaving the scene and prior to entering the apparatus should eliminate the risk of exposure from contact with equipment, clothing, and/or apparatus, as specified by recently developed Fire District guidelines.

“I was plesantly surprised to find out that some of our personnel are volunteering to staff this unit,” said Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. “Our Fire Paramedics and crew members are on the front lines of this epidemic, daily attending to emergency medical incidents that represented about 65% of the 9,300 emergency incidents we responded to in 2019. So stopping community spread is of vital importance to us and is job one right now!

“We can’t afford to have our first responders on the sidelines while they are waiting for testing, testing results and/or to complete a mandatory fourteen day quarantine, even if they are symptom free. We believe that by raising the bar on our personal protective clothing and by putting this new special response unit in place, we can slow or help to hopefully more effectively stop its spread.”

Photo: Menlo Fire

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