Columbus Fire Paramedics Ready for Potential Ebola Cases


Columbus Fire Paramedics are on the front lines of emergency medicine and what's on the front of their minds these days is Ebola.

"We expect it's going to happen here," says Jack Reall, Union President for the Columbus Division of Fire.  At this point, he says paramedics have the proper equipment to keep them safe from exposure to the deadly virus.  Each truck has five protective suits, however they have been stockpiled for years and their durability remains a question

"We have to make sure that the universal precaution kits that we have are adequate,” Reall adds.

That's just one of many questions the department is working to answer as it prepares for the day Ebola comes to Columbus.

"What's the appropriate gear we should wear?   What kind of respirator?   How should we treat the patient, maybe differently?   And afterwards, quarantine the vehicle.   That's where we're going to be different,” explains Reall.

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He says despite those unanswered questions, he remains confident paramedics have the tools and training to keep patients safe.  "I think we're prepared.   I think we're prepared as we can be."

But unlike other medical scares, Ebola has no cure.  That's why he says it’s important that entire medical community is reading from the same playbook.  He says that begins with the 911 call.  "Right now, the fire alarm office is getting prompted (on) how they're going to be asking questions for these people who may be having flu like symptoms so we know ahead of time (that) this may be one of those situations.”

It’s a situation the fire department says it's prepared to handle, should Ebola come to the capital city.  Reall says he feels the community is in good hands.

Next week, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency will meet with first responders and nurses to discuss the latest on preparing for an Ebola outbreak in Ohio.  Ohio Nurses Association tells 10TV it's conducting a survey among its members to gauge their sense of preparedness.