Coronavirus: police, firefighters taking precautions

By James Rider — TROY – Concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus has led many to work from home, and to schools shifting to online learning and an extended spring break. Law enforcement and first responders are not among those groups; they’re still on the road every day serving and protecting the public.

Law enforcement is taking precautions outlined by the Center for Disease Control as they continue to do their jobs. The Troy police department recently put a policy in place that applies to any contact with someone with a suspected respiratory illness or a confirmed case of Coronavirus.

The minimum personal protective equipment recommended by the CDC is:

• A single pair of disposable examination gloves,

• Disposable isolation gown or single-use/disposable coveralls*,

• Any NIOSH-approved particulate respirator (i.e., N-95 or higher-level respirator), and

• Eye protection (i.e., goggles or disposable face shield that fully covers the front and sides of the face)

"If we go to somebody with any kind of respiratory illness, we're going to try to limit the amount of contact,” Troy Police Captain Shawn McKinney said. “Our fire department is going to be the first people, and hopefully the only people, who have to go in there."

McKinney said sometimes they have to, or will have to, respond to a call like this. Even with extra precautions, social distancing are likely not possible for many in law enforcement.

"We respond to calls, we respond to situations all the time where we have to be around people,” Captain McKinney said. “So there's a certain amount of risk with this job that we have to take."

The precautions aren’t going to affect how the Troy police department does its job, however there is a chance the spread of the virus could affect the officers.

"We're still going to be out there,” McKinney said. “It may become difficult and if we have officers that end up testing positive, we're certainly not going to expose them to the public. We may see longer hours, we may see a lot of overtime if that comes to fruition here in Troy."

Captain McKinney said that first responders in town and across Miami County are setting up meetings for next week and working with the county’s Emergency Management Agency. He added that Troy PD is implementing policies right now to help keep people safe.