AMR chief says emergency workers prepared for Ebola

Published: Dec. 8, 2014 at 9:31 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2014 at 10:51 AM CST
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County supervisors heard an update Monday morning on how first responders are equipped to deal with Ebola.

At the height of the Ebola scare several months ago, emergency workers developed a plan of action to be prepared. AMR's Greg Doyle told supervisors in the wake of the Ebola case in Dallas, emergency workers here handled multiple calls from people who thought they had the disease.

"None of them had Ebola, though. But we had to respond to them like they did. And it created a huge burden from a response standpoint, from a preparation standpoint, and from a financial impact on hospitals and EMS, because we had to go so far overboard," said Doyle.

That prompted a first responder summit; a meeting where emergency medical personnel shared information and agreed on a protocol for handling potential cases.

"One thing that was as important as anything else, was to get all the players together and communicate with one another. So that if we found out something, that information would be getting across the networks of all of our first responders in the area at the same time," said Pat Sullivan, chief of fire services for Harrison County.

Doyle told the board dealing with Ebola is similar to earlier scares about Anthrax, MERS, or even a tuberculosis outbreak.

"It's still the same practices. Wash your hands a lot, wear your personal protective equipment, don't get real close to someone you think is real sick. I mean, it's just common sense stuff," Doyle explained.

One thing first responders had to deal with was personal protective equipment, or the lack thereof. In the wake of the Ebola scare, there were plenty of folks scrambling to buy such gear.

"We have a stash of personal protection equipment that is adequate for the responders in South Mississippi. That's not distributed to all the responders in South Mississippi for a couple of simple reasons. Not all the responders in South Mississippi need to have the full blown Ebola protection kit," Doyle told the board.

Doyle says AMR has a team on stand-by 24 hours a day to respond to any potential Ebola patients.

The AMR executive told supervisors that first responders agreed the Centers for Disease Control would be their primary source of information and protocol regarding the care of Ebola patients.

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