ROANOKE, Va. – Workers on the front lines have a plea for the public during the coronavirus outbreak: Stay home.
Firefighters and EMTs with Roanoke Fire-EMS are taking extra precautions to make sure that they protect themselves and the community from COVID-19.
Emily Turner is a dog mom, newlywed and she just started a new job at the department. Unlike most, she can’t work from home.
“There’s like a higher level of stress. Sort of all the time, you kind of feel it," Turner said. "We have to be exposed. If someone has an emergency, we have to go to their house. We have to touch them and you know, they’re going to breathe on us.”
Her biggest fear during the coronavirus outbreak is protecting the public while not putting her family at risk.
EMS Captain Scott Weaver’s kids are staying with his family in West Virginia.
“I have older parents and younger children and these are all things you’re thinking about all the time," Weaver said. "You don’t want to see those people get sick.”
First responders are taking extra precautions. They’re getting their temperatures taken twice a day, wearing gloves, masks and eyewear on every call. They’re also asking patients to put masks on.
“There’s no way for us on the scene to rule out who could possibly have it and who couldn’t,” Weaver said.
Unfortunately, first responders don’t have enough personal protective equipment, so they have to reuse their masks.
Weaver said for the most part the public is staying at home, but not everyone is.
The department started a new social media campaign where first responders hold signs that read: “We stay here for you. Please stay home for us." The goal is to encourage families to stay healthy, so that first responders can stay healthy and continue to protect the community.
For Turner and her husband, Chris, who’s also an EMT, it’s a reminder we all need to do our part to stop the spread.
“It seems like a small thing, like staying home and not going over to your friend’s house, not having playdates with your kids," said Turner. "But every little effort is helpful.”
First responders also said you can help them out by not buying masks or wearing them if you’re not sick because there’s a huge shortage of personal protective equipment, which first responders desperately need.
They also recommend washing your hands frequently and staying at home, which includes not making unnecessary trips to the grocery store.