Collier County first responders gear up for coronavirus responses

Reporter: Rich Kolko Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Making sure first responders are ready for coronavirus, protective equipment needs to be put on correctly to keep them healthy.

We got an up-close look at the training Collier County first responders are required to go through to do just that Tuesday.

First responders have to be ready for anything, including illnesses.

That’s why, every year, they go through training on how to put on and wear N95 personal breathing masks.

“To protect responders from viruses, bacteria and a number of other pathogens that are in the environment that we work,” said deputy chief Tony Camps with Collier County EMS.

It’s also the same type of mask that can protect first responders against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

That’s why Collier County EMS is training more instructors to bring it back to the men and women in their units.

“We need to make sure all our officers have the proper personal protective equipment to keep them safe,” said officer Emilio Rodriguez with Marco Island Police Department.

Trainers with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, MIPD and Marco Island Fire Department lined up for a fit test to show how effective their personal protective equipment (PPE) is.

Instructors inject a mist with a sweet taste into the test kit. If the trainer can taste it, they know the mask has failed. If they can’t taste it, it’s a pass, and viruses are kept out.

Collier responders are going to these calls protected; 911 operators are also trained to ask specific questions in regard to coronavirus. Examples include evaluating if a caller has a fever and have been coughing. That way, crews know they have to gear up when responding.

Now, these officers and paramedics can go instruct their co-workers on how to properly wear the mask.

“It gives you a sense of confidence in your equipment and what you’re using,” Camps said.

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