May 27, 2020

On the Job: David Bustamante

Jackson County Ambulance Service, Local 2464

We started taking precautions when the coronavirus first came up. Once the lockdown came into effect, our system protocols changed.

Every call, we go in with a surgical mask and gloves, but if we feel there is a sign or symptom of COVID or someone has been exposed, we use full PPE: mask, goggles, surgical gown, the whole nine yards.

We are using a “one in and one out” approach to patient contact. The hospital has a COVID unit set up aside from the emergency room, so that person who has direct contact with the patient helps hospital staff bring them in so the other person in the ambulance stays as far away as possible. And the direct contact person then stays in the back until we get back to the office.

At the office we do a complete clean, spray the truck down, the walls, cot, equipment and cab, and we also use a UV light on top of that to check and double check to make sure everything is good and all of our employees are safe.

You walk into situations and you’re definitely more aware of your surroundings. Everyone is being even more cautious than we normally are. This has been an eye-opener for people. I think we’ll probably continue to do a majority of these precautions even after this is all over.

The county has stepped up. We’ve had two people out who were quarantined because they had possibly come into contact. They are getting paid time off and not using vacation time. The van drivers who transport people in wheelchairs to and from the hospital when an ambulance isn’t needed are at home on paid time off without using benefit time.

We’re small and close-knit so we take care of our own year-round. We’re checking up on each other all the time. We’re doing everything we can for patients and staying safe.

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