CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — During March's stay-at-home orders, the Corpus Christi Fire Department said it saw a 16 percent drop in call volume, so it took the opportunity to prepare its emergency medical services for COVID-19 during that time period.
The planning paid off: The department said it is now constantly is swamped with novel coronavirus calls.
CCFD Battalion Chief Tony Perez said it is vital to make sure all who assist on these calls are 100-percent protected.
Personal protective equipment is provided, as well as a deep-clean of each unit. Perez said both are essential given the seriousness of the local coronavirus situation, that the fire department will do anything to ensure its staff's safety and the safety of their patients.
Firefighters -- who are also certified Emergency Medical Technicians -- now have the ability to test themselves to ensure they are safe from the virus.
“The Health Department has allowed us to test our own firefighters, which is great, because it gives us factual data for us to make decisions on who needs to be isolated, quarantined, or just away from work,” he said.
So far, CCFD has transported 231 confirmed-positive patients to local hospitals.
"We're gonna treat every patient as if they are COVID-19 positive, you know," he said. "We never know.”
Twelve units are available for transport, but are constantly in use due to the high volume of calls.
When those are in use, another unit known as "surge unit" is dispatched.
"If that unit winds up getting busy, then we would rely on the Annaville fire department for back up -- the Flour Bluff fire department as a back up," Perez said. "As a last resort, we then go to a private service.”