LOGAN — It is difficult to practice physical distancing in some professions. When it comes to enforcing the law and responding to emergencies; the task can be very hands-on.
But local law enforcement is up for the challenge of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and have made some changes in their respective buildings while still trying to keep the public safe.
Hocking County EMS
Hocking County EMS Chief and Director Scott Brooker said dealing with contagious diseases is nothing new in the public safety and healthcare fields.
What is new is that COVID-19 presents a challenge that is not just on a local, state or national level.
“It is a global pandemic that has brought unprecedented changes to all of us,” remarked Brooker. “Most places have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for normal situations but when everyone needs PPE, then it quickly becomes harder and harder to get.”
He added HCEMS, just like so many others, are in need of additional PPE. They currently have a decent number of protective items for the crews but for Brooker, the concern is not knowing how long everything will last.
But yesterday’s news of the FDA approving the company Battelle’s goal of sterilizing N95 masks so they could be reused has given Brooker some hope.
If the community would like to help HCEMS, Brooker says stay at home and call a primary health care provider if feeling ill.
If calling 911 seems necessary, tell the dispatcher about any fever, cough and shortness of breath that may be present. If HCEMS crews arrive in full protective gear, this is not to alarm you.
“This is for your protection as well as ours. “We are doing everything we can to stop the spread in the community,” concluded Brooker.
Hocking County Sheriff’s Office
The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office has issued policies and created procedures to try to limit exposure to any contagious diseases.
The office is also sanitizing gear, equipment and cruisers as well. Some of these policies include:
• Social distancing, maintaining a six foot distance from others
• Limited time deputies spend in the office
• Issued cleaning supplies and sanitizer to each deputy to have in their cruiser
• Issued PPE to each deputy including masks and gloves
• Processing CCW applications and performing background checks by appointment only to limit customers waiting in the lobby
Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North said his office has also reassigned personnel and began 12 hour shifts, which will allow them to have a larger presence on patrol in the county.
In addition, the office has expanded coverage to 24/7 at the Hocking Valley Community Hospital.
HCSO also began taking certain reports over the phone to limit the deputies’ and public’s exposure.
North added they have been fortunate to receive some additional PPEs from agency partners such as the Hocking County Health Department and EMA.
North said even though the office might have to change some operational procedures, which might make things a little more difficult, they will not allow that to hinder their service and duty to the public.
“We have, and will continue to, take proactive steps to keep our deputies safe and the public as well, during these unprecedented times,” commented North.
Logan Fire Department
Logan Fire Chief Brian Robertson said the fire department has always followed an infectious disease protocol.
This protocol involves using PPEs such as gloves, masks and eye protection depending on what the situation is.
Robertson added that if the person wearing this equipment feels they have been contaminated, the equipment will be put into a biodegradable bag and sent to the hospital where a company comes in and disposes of it.
In addition, the firefighters are wiping down the station more frequently and have closed the station to visitors. They will meet people outside if anything is needed. When they go on a call with EMS they use hand sanitizer and will bring PPEs depending on the call.
The social distancing measures have made the job a bit more difficult, according to Robertson. For the most part, he said it is business as usual.
Logan Police Department
A couple weeks ago, the Logan Police Department closed its lobby to the public. Because of this, the department has made some changes to some of their everyday practices.
Logan Police Captain Ryan Gabriel said they are now taking less serious incident reports over the phone or going out to the parking lot to take the report at a safe distance.
“We are still responding to calls of serious nature,” remarked Gabriel. “”We’ve got officers out 24/7 on the street but we are trying to limit contact with the public as much as possible.”
LPD is also working with the Hocking County Health Department to acquire masks and gloves because they are slightly limited. The department began using this equipment as more incidents involving fentanyl increased. In addition, each vehicle has a bottle of hand sanitizer.
They have not yet needed to use them but the police department also has about 20 articles of protective clothing that cover the entire body if needed.
Gabriel said taking incident calls by phone has made things a bit slower, which has been a challenge. And when a crime is serious, there has been an issue booking people in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail because of changes in their procedures.
What he feels has made the job easier as strategies change is the cooperation from the community with the majority of them complying with the stay at home measures.
“It makes our job easier the more compliance you get from the community and for the most part, it has been good around the city,” concluded Gabriel.