By Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — CBS 3 has learned Philadelphia firefighters and medics are about to get new protective gear to shield them from any possible exposure to the Ebola virus.

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In a story reported first and exclusively on CBS 3, Investigative Reporter Walt Hunter revealed fire officials plan to have a total of 1,800 new protective suits available soon to protect personnel citywide.

Fire officials confirmed to Hunter that they currently have 200 of the new suits on hand, another 1,600 on order.

The protective gear consist of jumpsuits, with a hood and mask. Previous protective suits were gowns and, in the view of Firefighters’ Union President Joe Schulle, did not provide full body cover.

Schulle says he is pleased with the new suits which are one piece and included enhanced facial protection. The president points out they will now cover all exposed skin giving the first responders peace of mind, knowing they are protected.

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Fire officials say the department is also purchasing “body isolation bags” which, if a patient is suspected of having Ebola, totally isolate the patient from caregivers.

Beginning soon, fire officials say, they will start special training so all firefighters and medics can safely use the suits to protect themselves.


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