LEHI, Utah (ABC4) – For many people, COVID-19 has affected key parts of our everyday lives, that includes firefighters and paramedics responding to the scene of an emergency. It’s easy to spot some of the changes, in this edition of Behind the Badge.
Suiting up for a 911 call in Lehi looks a lot different today than it did before our pandemic. Firefighter Paramedic Aubrey Freiberg out of Lehi Fire Station 83 said COVID has completely changed what they wear to a call, what they do when they arrive, and decontaminating the ambulance after they’re done.
“Our decontaminating process has gone from, maybe depending on the call,15 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes or maybe longer, depending on what we responded on,” says Freiberg.
Freiberg said to reduce their odds of getting sick they now wear full protective equipment: gowns, masks, and gloves; and when they get to the scene, on something like a medical call, they don’t go inside the house anymore.
“We want to be careful about how many people we’re exposed to. We’re asking our patients as never before to come out to us which feels like poor customer service especially these patients who are sick and already don’t feel well, we’re asking them to do additional work when they’ve called us for help,” she explains.
Freiberg admits doing things like fully wiping down the ambulance afterward and running an infrared light to kill potential pathogens adds extra time after each call, but she doesn’t look at it as an extra burden. Freiberg feels while covid created chaos for other industries, that hasn’t been the case for them.
“The world has been uprooted right? Everything about people’s routines have changed and we’ve been fortunate to maintain our routine… we knew what our job was every single day and we got to leave our homes to come here and see our coworkers everyday… so we feel very very lucky,” shares Freiberg.
She said the hard part about dealing with covid as a firefighter paramedic is moments where staff shortages, outbreaks, or other reasons don’t allow them to respond to as many calls for help as they’d like.
None of this is to say Lehi firefighters haven’t had their share of covid disruptions. Freiberg shared she recently just got over her own case of Covid-19.