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Area agencies work together to fight coronavirus

A Sunday afternoon, March 15, press release from the Town of Farmville shared information on how local agencies and officials are working together to best serve citizens in the area amid concerns about the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad (PEVRS) Executive Director Deanna Jones said her department is working to prescreen callers for the coronavirus.

“We have partnered with Farmville Dispatch to prescreen callers with simple questions in order to respond to 911 calls in the most appropriate manner,” Jones stated. “This prescreening has allowed us to designate one ambulance to respond to suspected/confirmed COVID-19 patients in order to minimize exposure to all others.”

She said PEVRS is working closely with Centra Southside Community Hospital and Piedmont Health District leaders to ensure it has up-to-date information in order to respond to the community’s needs. 

“We will be taking all necessary precautions to remain healthy and in service,” Jones said. “However, we have a continuity plan in place which includes partnering with other local (emergency medical service) EMS agencies to share personnel resources should the need arise.”

PEVRS personnel will be wearing protective equipment on calls for patients with symptoms consistent with the virus, Jones said.  

“While they may look more like surgeons, this measure is for the protection of our personnel as well as the greater community,” she said. “We ask you not to be concerned by this appearance.”

Farmville Volunteer Fire Department (FFD) Chief Dean Farmer said in the release that in an effort to minimize exposure to the department’s staff, the FFD has partnered with PEVRS to provide a uniform approach in response to possible cases of COVID-19.

“Our dispatch center will ask a list of questions to determine if the call for service meets certain criteria,” he stated. “If these criteria are met, Prince Edward Rescue will evaluate if our response is needed. During this process if our response is not needed, we will remain in service for additional calls.
He said FFD will still respond to major medical incidents, including chest pain, trauma and motor vehicle accidents.

FFD staff will have additional protective equipment to include masks and gowns and will also take other precautionary measures, he said.

Farmville Police Department Chief Andy Ellington stated in the release that he and his officers will also be taking precautionary measures and will have personal protective equipment.

“In an effort to minimize our officers’ exposure to citizen contact, I have suspended all extra-duty employment for the department,” he said. “All community outreach programs have been suspended, to include our ride-along program.”

Officers have been encouraged to raise their thresholds as to conducting traffic stops and initiating any arrest, Ellington stated.

He said that in responding to any sickness-related calls for service, his department’s communication officers are obtaining as much medical history of the patient as possible prior to an officer’s arrival.