CORONAVIRUS: Emporia Fire monitoring outbreak in Riley County EMS facilities Featured

CORONAVIRUS: Emporia Fire monitoring outbreak in Riley County EMS facilities KVOE News file photo

While Riley County works through a situation where several emergency medical workers have come down with coronavirus, Emporia Fire is doing with it can to limit any possible exposure to the illness.

Over the weekend, it was reported six Riley County EMS staffers working at two stations had contracted COVID-19. Riley County has four EMS stations and there is a possibility workers at a third station are infected. Testing is also underway to determine whether any Manhattan firefighters are also sick. Nine firefighters are in quarantine.

Early indications are the initial infections came from community spread and not from patient exposure. Emporia Fire Chief Jack Taylor says this possibility has been a concern for him since the pandemic started over three months ago.

Emporia Fire developed an operations strategy as the pandemic came to Kansas, including mask usage, multiple temperature checks per shift, surface disinfection, extra laundering of uniforms and bedding, halting fire prevention inspections and restricted access to Fire Headquarters at the Civic Building and Station 2 at 15th and Industrial Road. Inspections have resumed to a degree and some family access is allowed at the two stations, but Taylor says Emporia Fire's preventive measures are more restrictive than those set out by both Lyon County and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Taylor urged all residents to practice social distancing and wear protective masks, saying the masks alone can reduce your risk of catching coronavirus by five times.

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