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Medics ready to respond to 911 calls involving potential coronavirus calls

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 10:26:31-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The biggest concern for public health providers in Marion County remains the flu.

With rising concerns about the coronavirus, Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services wants people in the greater Indianapolis area to be calm. They say they are ready.

"We are ready and prepared as a city," IEMS chief Dr. Dan O’Donnell said. "The flu is still our biggest risk especially in Indiana and nationwide. The flu is affecting more people in the U.S. than the coronavirus. And we still recommend if you haven't received your flu shot, because the flu is still sticking around."

If you call 911 with flu symptoms, you'll be asked if you traveled overseas. If the answer is yes, be prepared for a specific response in the age of coronavirus.

“The responder on the scene will confirm you have been to a high risk area. If that happens they will hand you a surgical mask which is a good procedure in cold/flu anyway. We will don more protection equipment," O’Donnell said.

Each of the city’s 31 ambulances and about 300 medics are equipped to handle the coronavirus threat.

Unlike the patient, first responders will wear googles, a face shield, protective gowns and specialty masks.

Chief Kevin Gona is responsible for keeping IEMS stocked with supplies for daily use and for possible emergencies.

“They want to be certain that they don’t get sick and bring what you may have to another patient. They wear a level protection to keep them being exposed to COVID-19,” Gona said.