By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Now more than ever, Yukon residents are being reminded that calling 911 is only for a real emergency.
“If people think they’re having an issue, they should contact their primary care physician – not call 911,” Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt said. “We’re trying to get that message out.”
Yukon fire personnel are being vigilant – both in their response to emergency medical calls and while at the fire station – in response to the coronavirus global outbreak.
The City of Yukon has declared a state of emergency through April 6. The declaration was made on March 16, the day the Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed the first coronavirus case in Canadian County.
Several City of Yukon events were canceled as city leaders encouraged local restaurants, bars, businesses, and organizations to impose social distancing measures.
The City of Yukon developed a response plan after concerns grew about the virus outbreak.
“We want to stress that people should only call 911 if it’s an emergency,” Chief Vogt said.
Anyone who calls 911 is asked questions to determine the severity of their issue.
911 callers are asked whether they have a fever or cough, and if they’ve recently traveled outside the U.S.
“If they answer ‘yes’ to one of those questions, then our guys know when they respond, we’re not going to send a whole crew in,” Vogt said. “One person – usually the officer on the truck – will make contact and do an assessment from a safe distance to see what type of emergency we have.”
Depending on the severity of the situation, either one YFD emergency medical technician (EMT) will handle the call – or more fire personnel will take action to address the issue.
This will help Yukon firefighters limit their exposure to any potential health risk, according to Chief Vogt.
KEEP SAFE COMMUNITY
Yukon first responders were pleased with Canadian County Commissioners’ approval this week of an emergency proclamation that will provide funding to purchase more n95 respirator masks, gowns and other equipment.
“That will help us to respond in a safer manner to patients who need our help,” Chief Vogt said. “That (proclamation) is what helps us tap into those resources – and to keep the community safe.”
Yukon fire personnel are joining other emergency responders to encourage people to follow safe practices to help avoid any virus spread.
“Try to stay inside when you can,” Vogt said. “Wash your hands thoroughly and do take your hands to your face any more than you have to.
“If you have the ability to ‘shelter in place’ and limit your exposure to the outside – especially for the next two weeks as the government is suggesting, those are all good steps in the right direction.”
The YFD already has protocols in place to thoroughly disinfect equipment and apparatus after responding to certain types of emergency calls.
“Every morning, the guys use some pretty high-powered sanitary wipes – they have to wear gloves – to wipe all of our first-line response rigs,” Chief Vogt said. “We’re disinfecting them.”
Any firefighter who may be exposed must take a decontamination shower before entering the fire station.