COVID-19 safety update

COVID-19 safety update



  • Whenever possible, begin your patient assessments from at least 6 feet away.  If your patient is coughing, have them wear a surgical mask.
  • Involve a supervisor in any Coronavirus-Like Illness (CLI) case.
  • Call medical control early if you’re thinking about transporting a CLI patient.  A destination decision should be the result of a conversation between the supervisor, medical control, and the crew.  Limit the number of personnel involved in a CLI transport. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • It’s still important to protect yourself from other active communicable diseases, like influenza and the common cold.  If you’re sick, stay home!




  • We are surveying, confirming, and monitoring the stock of basic medical PPE supplies (gloves, surgical masks, eye/face protection, and gowns/coveralls) on all units.  For the most part, we’re in good shape, and we anticipate being able to address any deficits quickly.  Right now, PPE kits come in different varieties – for instance, here’s Kempsville’s:

  • EMS-1 and EMS-2 now have 2 contingency medical PPE kits each (for a total of 4 kits).  These kits are intended for use when the supplies available on the responding ambulance and/or zone car are insufficient.  Each of these contingency kits contains enough of the following items to protect 4 caregivers:  N95 masks, eye/face protection, gowns, and hand sanitizer.

  • There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia.



  • We’re distributing N95 masks, in containers of 3 each, to each ambulance and zone car.  This effort is almost finished.  Please keep these containers.  Many ambulances have additional N95 masks provided by the volunteer rescue squads.  (For the future, we do not recommend molded N95 masks.  We recommend the individually-sealed fold-flat kind.)

    Here’s what the EMS Department is distributing:

  • We’re preparing to share more extensive messaging with you on topics such as removing PPE, rigging an ambulance to limit respiratory disease transmission during transport, disinfecting an ambulance, etc.  Some of our personnel have special training on these topics already.  Until you’re well-versed in these procedures, involve a supervisor before you attempt them.



  • We know where to get some stockpiled N95 masks, but we don’t quite have them in our own hands yet.  An order of about 600 brand-new N95s should be here next week.
  • Predictable seasonal illnesses like influenza and the common cold are still causing increased demand for EMS services and decreased EMS staffing.




  • Be cautious about nebulizing a patient who might have a communicable respiratory illness.  Nebulization is an “aerosol-generating procedure”, and aerosolized viral particles are much easier to transmit from person to person.
  • Upon entering the emergency department with any patient, your gloves should only touch surfaces that you will be cleaning immediately after turning over your patient.  Remove your gloves, trash them, and wash your hands before leaving the patient’s room.  [This advice has been updated in the follow-up post here.]





— Division Chief Kevin Lipscomb, NRP

— Regulation & Support Services

— Va Beach EMS Department

“EMS Chief 7” (ECH07)