Area dispatchers prepare for potential COVID-19 cases

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Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 21:28:43-04

HENDRICKS COUNTY — Work never stops for 911 dispatchers and first responders.

In Hendricks County, the total number of 911 calls has temporarily decreased as people follow Gov. Eric Holcomb's order to stay home. When calls for service do come in additional screening is being done to keep citizens and first responders alike safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have been asking supplemental questions on almost every call — do you have difficulty breathing, experiencing shortness of breath, cough, fever, flu-like symptoms," Greg O'Brien, operations manager at the Hendricks County Communication Center, said. "Making sure they take the proper precautions to get the best help necessary."

First responders said those extra precautions are key so they can continue to be there when people call.

"It is actually a decision of life or potential death," Douglas Randell, division chief for emergency medical services for Plainfield Fire Territory, said. "We take this very seriously."

Plainfield Fire Territory leaders say if they are responding to a call where someone may have symptoms of COVID-19 they were medical gowns, protective eyewear and N-95 masks.

"We are here to help protect our employees so they can protect the public," Randell said.

Officials said the public can do their part as well. Dispatchers said they've been getting a lot of non-emergency calls for people with general COVID-19 questions. Those type of calls should be made to county or state hotlines or your primary care doctor.

"We can make sure fire and EMS are available to respond to true emergencies but as always we are never going to say no," O'Brien said.