How Lawrence Fire Department works to keep crews, patients safe amid virus

How Lawrence Fire Department keeps crews, patients safe amid virus

LAWRENCE, Ind. (WISH) — The Lawrence Fire Department says three of their employees have been diagnosed with coronavirus and are in quarantine.

The department says it’s not just them: Emergency medical units all across the county are struggling with how to help people while the virus spreads.

An emergency services ambulance speeds to help someone in trouble with people on board thinking about how to save a life, not about if they’re risking their own.

“The Lawrence Fire Department, and I believe most other departments in the county as well, have had to change its policies and procedures when responding to a potential COVID-19 run,” Fire Chief Dino Batalis said.

Lawrence Fire and EMS is down three responders because of the virus with no indication of where those members picked up the infection. The department told News 8 crews are doing whatever they can to keep their people safe as they enter homes.

“We make sure that all of our personnel are outfitted with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and that employees are following the necessary protocols, which are consistent with the CDC guidelines,” Batalis said.

When someone on the force thinks they may have come into contact with an infected person, they act immediately.

“We first notify the Emergency Operations Center,” Batalis said. “The Emergency Operations Center then contacts Elli Lilly Testing and provides them with a doctor’s order to have the employee tested. The Elli Lilly Testing center will then inform the person of a time in which he or she can be tested.”

Lawrence Fire wants people to know that, even with the virus, you should never be afraid to call for help.

“As in all situations, it is important for people to know that they should call 911 if they are at risk and need immediate help,” Batalis said. “Otherwise, they can consult their primary care physician.”

For now, they say wearing a mask is appreciated if you have the virus, and they’ll continue to do their best to help the community.

“Once we get through this, I really believe it will make our department stronger and enhance our work knowledge for future runs,” Batalis said.

Lawrence Fire Department says, if possible, the best thing you can do is just let dispatchers know ahead of time if you’ve run into anybody with the virus or you’re experiencing any symptoms.