Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Screens Calls for COVID-19
Canyon Lake Fire/EMS (Comal County ESD No. 3) is following guidelines established by Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) and is actively screening 911 callers for potential Novel 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Fire Chief Darren Brinkkoeter said Canyon Lake firefighters will respond to suspected cases utilizing treatment, transport and decontamination policies and procedures outlined by STRAC.
STRAC is designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to develop, implement and maintain the regional trauma and emergency healthcare system for 22 counties.
However, he stresses there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canyon Lake or Comal County and urges residents — as simple as it may sound — to wash their hands and stay home when feeling sick.
A March 4 press release issued by New Braunfels Fire Department (NBFD) also describes guidelines first responders would follow in the event of a suspected COVID-19 call.
According to information posted to STRAC’s website, Regional Operations Center San Antonio (RMOC-SA), EMS pre-arrival screening protocol for an initial call complaint of general illness or flu-like symptoms includes the following criteria:
Box 1: Does the patient have a fever or are they hot to touch at room temperature? Cough? Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath? Other flu-like symptoms (sore throat, runny nose)? Other agency/medical director specific questions?
Box 2: Has the patient traveled from an affected geographic region such as China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea? Is the patient currently under investigation/isolation? Has the patient been in close contact with someone known to be sick with, or under public health investigation/isolation for COVID 19?
EMS response to patients who met at least one criteria item from Box 1 and Box 2 asks patients to isolate themselves. EMS crews would then be notified that patients meet pre-arrival screening for COVID-19 and isolation/personal protective equipment (PPE) measures will be taken prior to contact.
Responders would follow agency policies to limit multi-unit responses or to limit the number of first responders that are exposed to patients suspected of having COVID-19.