March 30, 2020
Ask the Chief
Q: How are police officers staying well during the pandemic?
A: Thank you for your concern. One of our primary purposes is to respond to our community members' calls for help in an emergency; therefore, keeping our employees healthy during this time is an important part of that response. We are taking the following precautions to stay healthy so we can protect and serve this resilient community.
Earlier this month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for first responders such as police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. "For law enforcement personnel performing daily routine activities, the immediate health risk is considered low," the CDC website says.
The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch 911 are asking callers whether the patient has a fever, cough, or respiratory symptoms — all of which are potential coronavirus symptoms. If the patient does have these symptoms, the dispatcher will alert all first responders about the patient's symptoms. This will notify officers to wear the minimum personal protective equipment: eye protection, N95 respirator (mask), gloves, and, if available, protective gown. If the medical call for service is not life-threatening, officers will remain in their vehicle, in front of the residence, and will only clear from the call once the ambulance crew/paramedics on-scene release them. If the call is life-threatening – unresponsive, not breathing, officers will wear their personal protective equipment identified above and initiate care until ambulance/paramedics arrive on-scene and take over care of the patient. Officers should treat all patients as potential COVID-19 patients.
Upon completion of the call, officers will disinfect their equipment and sanitize per CDC guidance provided to all employees. All officers have received the following CDC and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Fact Sheets:
- IACP - COVID-19 Information for Law Enforcement: General Fact Sheet.
- IACP – COVID-19 Staying Healthy as a Police Officer.
- CDC – What Law Enforcement Personnel Need to Know About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- CDC – Steps to Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 If You Are Sick.
Officers are constantly reminded to
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when sick, especially with a fever or if a member of the household has a fever.
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick.
- Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve (not hands).
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (cleaning supplies for squad cars and personal workstations are provided).
Minimal staffing is being implemented per the Governor’s Executive Order #20-20, Stay at Home Order. Along with separating section and shifts that can provide relief if a crew is exposed to COVID-19, we will be able to maintain our response for the citizens.
References and Resources:
1. CDC Resources for Law Enforcement, located online at: https://www.cdc.gov/…/communi…/guidance-law-enforcement.html
2. International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), located online at: https://www.theiacp.org/
3. City of Red Wing Safety Policy on Exposure to Blood Borne Pathogens/Communicable Disease.
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