Hall Ambulance Service, Inc. statement on response to COVID-19 Pandemic
April 11, 2020
As the paramedic provider for 88 percent of Kern County’s population, Hall Ambulance Service is working diligently on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are doing so alongside our fellow public safety and healthcare partners.
Several weeks ago, our company began implementing extensive measures to protect our employees, patients and the communities we serve. As we continue to learn more about this virus, we have adapted and refined best practices. We have adopted social distancing policies and the majority of our non-medical staff are working remotely from home.
The following is a summary of our actions to date:
Responding to a Suspected/Confirmed COVID-19 Patient
Our Communications Center (OCD) is utilizing the Emerging Infectious Disease Surveillance (EIDS) tool to assist with identifying suspected COVID-19 patients. Working in tandem with Kern County’s Emergency Communications Center (ECC), EIDS helps dispatchers in ascertaining if a patient is exhibiting signs or symptoms as a COVID-19 “patient of interest.” It allows dispatchers to divert from the standard line of questioning during the EMD process and prompts them to ask questions specific to our county as directed by the EMS Department. When a caller answers positive to the questioning, the dispatcher alerts the crew for the need for personal protective equipment (PPE). Once the ambulance arrives, the paramedic or EMT will attempt to interview the patient from a 6-foot distance to ascertain if full PPE is required. If it is, the crew will wear a gown, gloves, face shield and either a surgical mask or N95 mask. The EMS crew will also place a surgical mask on the patient.
Ambulance Decontamination Following Transport of a Suspected/Confirmed COVID-19 Patient
After the transport of a suspected/confirmed COVID-19 patient, the ambulance is placed out of service, and the crew performs an initial sanitization of the ambulance. The ambulance then undergoes a stringent decontamination process, which takes about 2.25 hours to complete. This is performed by two decon technicians in PPE, and a manager, who works from a safe zone to observe and document the decontamination process. Decontamination includes a deep cleaning with a bleach-based CDC approved product, monitored control of waste from the ambulance, and extra protection for the workers decontaminating the emergency vehicle.
Monitoring our Workforce
Before logging onto their shift, every employee undergoes a screening process to check for temperature, and answer a series of questions to detect whether they are fit for duty. If their response or temperature does not meet standards, the employee is not able to work that day, and they are advised to contact their healthcare provider.
Hall Ambulance COVID-19 Task Force
Several in the Company’s leadership team are working tirelessly to manage Hall Ambulance’s around-the-clock response to the pandemic. Careful focus is given to the health and well-being of our employees, and the safeguard of our patients and communities we serve.
A COVID-19 Daily Update is being produced and disseminated to employees to keep them abreast of the latest developments, trends and safety measures.
Working Behind the Scenes
Supporting our paramedics, EMTs, RNs and emergency medical dispatchers is a vast network of support staff who are also rising to the challenge while embracing change in work environments.
In addition to decontamination of ambulances, the Facilities-Maintenance Division is wiping down doorknobs, door jambs, faucet handles, stair rails, light switches and toilet flush handles of all buildings at our main location in downtown Bakersfield, using a CDC approved non-caustic disinfectant.
The majority of our Business Office, Human Resources and Finance Department staff are working remotely, and/or with staggered schedules to allow for social distancing while continuing to serve the needs of our employees and the public.
In EMS, vehicle failure is not an option, and our staff at Hall Commercial Vehicle Service is doing a stand-up job in keeping ambulances ready to respond. Vehicle technicians have adapted sanitization procedures when sharing tools and are donning masks and gloves when traveling together to pick up or drop off ambulances.
To illustrate to the community the dedication of the over 450 Hall Ambulance employees during this crisis, the Media Services Division has initiated a social media campaign titled “Working on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”