HOLBROOK — Director Steve Hooke and the Holbrook Regional Emergency Communications Center wish to provide the community with an update on the Center’s operations and would like to inform the public of what to expect when they call 911 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
HRECC telecommunicators are following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health guidance related to the assessment of a potential COVID-19 patient.
When someone calls 911, the standard greeting by telecommunicators is “911, this line is being recorded, what is the location (or address) of your emergency?” The telecommunicator will, within the first moments of the call, determine the exact location of the emergency (including the town, apartment number, etc.) and the emergency or primary issue.
For callers reporting medical emergencies, telecommunicators will continue to ask callers a series of standard questions based on the complaint. Due to the coronavirus, in addition to these standard questions, all callers requesting a police, fire or medical response will be asked additional questions such as: “Have you had a fever, cough or shortness of breath?” and “Have you or anyone inside your home been sick?”
The telecommunicator will then instruct someone in the home to meet police or fire personnel at the door, if they are able to do so. This is done in an effort to have a single member of the department assess the situation and limit possible exposure to the coronavirus.
HRECC would like to remind residents that the safety of community members and emergency personnel is of the utmost importance. It is imperative that information about possible viral symptoms is relayed in a timely fashion and accurately to first responders and asking additional health screening questions early during a call allows telecommunicators to do so. Emergency personnel can protect themselves with proper protective equipment, but will only do so if there is a valid concern for their health based on information provided by the caller.
The HRECC urges people to always call 911 to report immediate threats to their life or property, but to contact their local healthcare provider if they show general symptoms of coronavirus.
“In the midst of this crisis, we would like to remind residents that our telecommunicators will always be there to take your call and emergency crews will always respond immediately to 911 emergencies and urgent calls for service,” Director Steve Hooke said.
“Our telecommunicators have worked as a team long before this virus became a pandemic and that is very apparent as they continue to help each other through this situation with strength and support,” Deputy Director Lauren Mielke said. “Our team consists of mothers, fathers and grandparents. Some have small children at home who they are now trying to find care for as they continue to come to work. Some have spouses who work in healthcare and worry about their well-being. It truly takes a village and the telecommunicators of the HRECC are the best of the best. They work as a team but are also each other’s family away from home.”
HRECC leadership is in constant communication with its partner agencies and local Boards of Health to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate information and guidelines to disseminate to first responders.
If anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should not go to work or school and are advised to contact their primary care physician. According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure.
Residents are urgently encouraged to practice proper personal hygiene and social distancing. The CDC offers the following guidance for how COVID-19 spreads.
For more information, visit your local town website, the DPH website here and the CDC’s website here. The state has also set up the phone number 211 to answer questions that residents may have concerning COVID-19.