In response to the rise in calls involving flu-like symptoms, the Abilene Fire Department is establishing a Virus Response Unit (VRU). This unit is comprised of two paramedic firefighters who will staff our current Medic1 vehicle. The VRU will respond to calls where a patient may be displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19. Normal response to these types of calls is either a fire engine or ladder truck. Assigning a specialized team to these calls allows personnel from this unit to become more familiar with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 patients and it also minimizes possible exposure to AFD personnel.
Starting today, (1) VRU will be placed into operation. A second unit is being prepared and will be ready for implementation if the need arises. If the VRU is not available, then a fire engine will continue to respond to these calls.
Along with the VRU, a new COVID-19 protocol is being distributed to personnel today. This protocol was created, in association with AMR-Metrocare, in an effort to better serve potential patients and to ensure the safety of responding personnel. This protocol is directly related to the Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) protocol concerning Pandemic/Epidemic/Outbreak (PEO) emergency calls. Dispatchers will use the PEO term and respond the VRU to calls involving potential COVID-19 symptoms.