Capt. Frank Battaglia of Washington Township EMS may have a unique perspective on the challenges of battling a worldwide pandemic.
To be prepared, the township EMS staff has held meetings and reviewed different disinfecting techniques.
“We have been trained prior in situations similar to this but not quite as extensive,” Battaglia explained. “But we do have the necessary equipment to handle it for now.”
The EMS veteran said the crisis has affected how emergency calls are handled and how his staff should respond to a resident in need.
“Our dispatch is supposed to be asking the question if there are any flu-like symptoms or illnesses,” Battaglia said of the call process. “Now, if anyone calls, they’re asking if the person is sick and asking about the symptoms and then relaying that information to us over the radio prior to us responding.”
The township EMS has three daytime ambulances and two ambulances available at night, with supervisors on each day and night shift.
“Everybody seems to be fine right now,” Battaglia noted. ” I don’t know what the future will bring, but right now we’re fully staffed.”
None of Battaglia’s staff has had exposure to COVID-19, or coronavirus. And with a fully equipped team, there was no need for substitutes or backups.
Battaglia offered this advice to local residents: “Follow the governor’s orders. Stay home, wash your hands and practice social distancing. Stay away from people coughing.”
And on the subject of protective masks or gloves, he said they might not be necessary unless someone is sick or carrying the virus.
“If you are sick, then I wouldn’t suggest going out,” Battaglia advised. “Have someone else do your shopping. For the everyday person … they don’t need to wear a mask and gloves if they’re not sick.”
Despite the crisis, Battaglia tries to remain optimistic.
“I think if everyone stays in place for a few weeks then I think we could get a handle on this,” he said. “My personal opinion is to stay home and enjoy your time with your loved ones.”
While there were two confirmed coronavirus cases in Gloucester County as of deadline, Battaglia said he is unaware of any cases in Washington Township.
“I think Washington Township residents are following the procedures for the most part.”