State authorities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware are telling 911 dispatchers to screen for possible cases of Ebola.
The Delaware County director of emergency services said the first question is whether the patient has a fever of over 101.5 degrees.
“(Then) we ask if they have any additional symptoms; headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, so on and so forth,” Ed Truitt said. “And then, of course, ‘Have you traveled to West Africa in the past three weeks?'”
If a patient answers “yes” to these, first-responders such as paramedics, EMTs and police officers are notified so they can don protective equipment before arriving on the scene.
That follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols released this month.
The CDC said it is up to local authorities to decide when the risk of Ebola is elevated enough to warrant use of the protocols, as the state health departments in the tristate area have done.
The recommendations also include information about proper isolation procedures for emergency medical service providers.
The Volunteer Medical Service Corps, which provides ambulance services in Lower Merion, Narberth, Conshohocken and West Conshohocken, is mandating brush-up drills this week on those isolation procedures.
“We’re not very well versed at this whole idea of the whole body encapsulation, and making sure that we’re protected from head to toe, so we’re going back over all those protocols,” said Battalion Chief Ian Stoddart.
The protocols include how to put on and safely remove a Tyvek suit, booties, and hood, as well as goggles, a respiratory mask, and gloves.