COVID-19 safety update

COVID-19 safety update

Now is the time to start stretching our “exposure minimization” muscles.


To minimize exposure to a communicable disease, you can manage the following factors…


  • DISTANCE between responders and the patient
  • BARRIERS between the responder and the patient
  • TIME SPENT near a patient
  • SUSCEPTIBILITY of the responder to the contagion
  • HYGIENE of ourselves, our gear, our vehicles, and our living spaces

You probably already manage these factors now for patients you suspect of having the flu or even a cold.


If COVID-19 starts spreading in the community (as opposed to people only getting it from international exposure), we should practice the following tactics for any patient:





  • Consider having the whole crew pause to get a general impression of the patient from more than 6 feet away.
  • Consider having just one or two personnel get closer to the patient to take vitals, to treat the patient, or to move the patient.
  • Students and interns can watch from afar and can reunite with their crew later.


  • Apply a surgical mask (or a sealed non-rebreather with oxygen flowing) to a sick coughing patient.
  • Put your own appropriate PPE on — but don’t waste limited resources.
  • Close the door or window between the cab of the ambulance and the patient compartment.


  • If you need to be close to the patient, complete your task and then move back.
  • At the hospital, park your patient away from people’s workstations while waiting for a bed assignment.


  • Since no vaccine is available for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, all of us are likely susceptible to it until or unless we’ve recovered from it ourselves.  Recognize that personnel who are older, and those who have serious chronic medical conditions (like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease) are at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness.


  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Keep everything clean.


As well-educated and highly trained as we are, we are each very valuable to the community in times like these.  With the discipline to apply some common-sense rules, we can and will manage communicable illnesses.


— Division Chief Kevin Lipscomb, NRP

— Regulation & Support Services

— Va Beach EMS Department

“EMS Chief 7” (ECH07)


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