Sandy Springs Fire Rescue prepares for coronavirus (ANDY SHARP/ AJC staff)
Photo: Andy Sharp/AJC
Photo: Andy Sharp/AJC

Sandy Springs Fire Rescue prepares for coronavirus, monitoring personnel 

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Sandy Springs but there are suspected cases, said Patrick Flaherty, section chief at Sandy Springs Fire Rescue, during a report to City Council on Tuesday. 

“We are monitoring a number of staff that had potential exposures,” said Flaherty. 

Chief Keith Sanders told the AJC that those individuals are fire department personnel. “There are less than five that have been tested,” said Sanders. “We are waiting for results.”

Those individuals have isolated at home, he added.

As a proactive measure, Fire Rescue has acquired a motor home located at an undisclosed fire station that will be used for fire fighters who have been exposed and prefer to isolate away from their residence. 

It can house up to six personnel, said Sanders. 

“It’s not used at this point,” said Sanders. “If they go to a call with someone who has flu-like symptoms, a [responder] will go in with personal protective equipment – mask, gown, gloves and goggles- and assess. If they come in contact [with the virus], we will make sure they don’t come back to the fire station.”

In community outreach, Sandy Springs Fire Rescue has sent information to residential communities to relay protective guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Georgia Department for Public Health, said Flaherty. 

Since March 10, fire department staff have contacted nursing homes, assisted and independent living facilities twice a day to ask about signs of the coronavirus outbreak among senior citizen residents, said Flaherty.

“This is allowing us to prevent a problem [like] what we saw in Seattle, Washington,” he explained. “By the time the problem was identified, it had already spread to a number of the residents at that particular nursing home.”

As of Tuesday night, Sandy Springs fire department had not received any reports of symptomatic residents at senior facilities, said Sanders. According to his office, the number of citizen calls for emergency medical services are about the same for January and March at 360. February was lower with 334 calls. 

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