Emergency responders put fear aside to get the job done

Updated: Apr. 10, 2020 at 5:17 PM EDT
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RENSSELAER FALLS, N.Y. (WWNY) - They’re worried for themselves and for their families, but emergency responders are going where few others would want to be during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have the gear needed and they're making the calls, including those for people showing coronavirus symptoms. They are not standard calls.

“People are scared, scared of not knowing what is going to happen, because the potential is always there for any one of us to get infected with it," said James Blackburn, Rensselaer Falls Volunteer Rescue Squad Advanced EMT.

The feeling is universal among the rescue service. But people, paid and volunteer, are showing up day after day.

“To me it’s just amazing because you have no idea what you’re going to come in contact with and what you’re going to take home,” said Ken Gardner, Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad chief.

Personal protective gear is a must. They have enough – for right now. But stocks are low. Ogdensburg has designated one ambulance to the calls. It has special precautions.

There are 84 cases spread all over St. Lawrence County. Rescue service veterans have been through dire warnings before on a host of diseases. but none that delivered like coronavirus.

“We talked about it with Ebola. We talked about it with SARS. But none of it ever, even H1N1, I mean it never, never came through as contagious as this has turned out to be,” said Gardner.

So what can the public do to help?

“More social distancing. If everybody’s outside of the house, make sure they wear a mask...proper hand washing...proper coughing and sneezing etiquette,” said Matthew Denner, St. Lawrence County Emergency Services director.

And there’s another - the county’s Emergency Operations Center accepts donations of homemade masks and will soon even establish an after-hours drop-off.

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