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Salem firefighters, police carrying kits for responding to coronavirus

As of Thursday, kits had not needed to be used

SALEM, Va. – As a Roanoke College student remains in isolation awaiting test results for the new coronavirus (COVID-19), Salem firefighters and police officers are making sure they’re prepared to respond to coronavirus patients.

All fire department vehicles and police cruisers now carry emergency supply kits.

The kits have a bottle of heavy-duty disinfectant spray, surgical masks for patients and N-95 fitted face masks for the firefighters and police officers.

The fire department has been working for two weeks to get the kits together and update the plan for dealing with diseases in the community.

That plan is continually being updated, fire chief John Prillaman said, as new developments about the virus become available.

If the Roanoke College student tests positive for the virus and firefighters are called to transport them to a hospital for treatment, firefighters would wear goggles, gloves and face masks.

“We had the plan in place last week. There’s been a couple changes. Luckily, we kind of had the foresight to order some additional equipment. Now, it’s getting harder and harder to order," Prillaman said.

Ambulances used to transport coronavirus patients will be thoroughly cleaned with the heavy-duty disinfectant spray.

The fire department is trying to ease firefighters’ fears about the virus.

“We had meetings Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with all three shifts. We tried to answer questions; we reviewed the policy; we did some training. Again, we face-fitted everybody for these respirators. So we really tried to put them at ease that we have this under control, and as the guidance changes, we will be on top of it," Prillaman explained.

As of Thursday, the Roanoke College student remained in isolation at his or her off-campus residence.