By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia Fire Department memo obtained by the CBS 3 I-team now reveals new steps being taken to protect medics and firefighters who might answer calls to help patients suspected of having the Ebola virus.
The memo, sent to all fire department officers and members citywide, states, “The Fire Communications Center will utilize additional call screening measures to identify patients suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus.”
Firefighters’ Union President Joe Schulle told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter anyone calling with symptoms consistent with Ebola will be asked by “911” calltakers about recent travel to Africa.
If there are suspicions of Ebola, Schulle explained, dispatchers will alert medics, allowing them to don special protective gear before encountering the patient.
The Local 22 President told Hunter that all Philadelphia medic units and fire apparatus have carried protective clothing since the anthrax attacks following 9/11.
However, Schulle revealed, since the suits can only be worn once, he has been advised by fire officials, they are purchasing an additional 400 to augment their reserve supply.
Schulle indicated he expects the department to conduct “refresher” training with medics and firefighters, so they can safely don and remove the protective coverings.
Philadelphia Fire Department officials did not respond to a request for comment.
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