Ebola has influenced preparedness of local first responders

By Lt. Chuck Fleeger, College Station Police Department, and Eric Dotson, College Station Fire Marshal

Ebola.  

The topic has dominated recent news reports, even on the local level. A virus that originated halfway across the globe has impacted lives in many countries and has affected people in our own state. 

Copyright: roxanabalint / 123RF Stock PhotoWe’ve been blessed not to have any instances of Ebola in our community, but recent events have influenced how we educate and prepare our first responders. While the risk of our dealing directly with the Ebola virus is low, it’s important for the men and women of the College Station Police and Fire Departments to be ready if we need to respond to an Ebola-related situation.

Dispatchers are the key

The “first” first responders in College Station are our dedicated telecommunications personnel in dispatch. These professionals take calls for service and initiate responses from our police and fire personnel. The growing concerns related to Ebola and other infectious diseases have changed their jobs.  

Callers will now be asked questions related to symptoms, recent travel, and contacts with people potentially exposed to infectious diseases. This vital information will allow dispatchers to adequately prepare our police officers and firefighters for their initial response.

Improved training

First responders are also being trained on adequate safety precautions and how to recognize symptoms of infectious diseases. By combining information from dispatch with their own knowledge and on-scene observations, they will be able to more effectively and safely respond and assist. Efforts are also being made to provide our emergency personnel with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, including clothing, helmets, goggles or other gear. 

We may never have to deal directly with Ebola in our community but it’s important that our first responders are adequately prepared to respond if needed.

About the Authors

Lt. Chuck Fleeger has 24 years of service with the College Station Police Department and has served as public information officer since 2013. He is a native of College Station and attended Texas A&M.

Eric Dotson is the City of College Station’s fire marshal and has been with the College Station Fire Department for 14 years. A native of Marshall, Dotson graduated from Texas A&M in 2006.

Photo Copyright: roxanabalint / 123RF Stock Photo

 

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