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How First Responders are Adapting to COVID-19

Posted at 7:31 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 21:35:06-04

TWIN FALLS — As many local businesses are making changes as to how they operate, some may wonder what our first responders are doing to ensure both their own and the public's safety. In Twin Falls, police, fire and paramedics are having to change how they deal with emergency calls.

The central change that all departments are adopting is adding a questionnaire for those calling 911 which revolves around COVID-19.

“Do you have a fever? Do you have a cough? Are you experiencing basic COVID symptoms. So our dispatchers are trained to make sure they indicate that on the radio as we’re responding." stated Fire Chief Les Kenworthy.

The questions asked by dispatchers will allow first responders to be notified what precautions will need to be taken once on scene. Units responding will also know what sorts and how much personal protective equipment will be required to wear. Yet, It is still asked of the public to continue communication once they arrive to discuss potential hazards so they know they are properly prepared.

Although following the questionnaire protocol and having personal protective equipment, the police department is attempting to limit as much in person interaction as possible. They are utilizing telephone calls to fill out more reports.

Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsbury said, "If someone is calling in for a police report where maybe at the beginning of March we would send an officer out to a home to take a report, unless there is evidence to collect or something or it’s an in progress type of disturbance, we’re doing a lot more of that over the telephone."

The police department noted that for medical emergencies they will wait until paramedics have arrived unless it's a life or death scenario.

In fact, all departments have ensured that these added steps will not have an effect on response time in the event of a critical situation.