Saratoga County

With Shen cases, EMS staff prep for COVID-19 response

Saratoga County EMS Coordinator Mike McEvoy speaks during a press conference in Clifton Park Tuesday.
Saratoga County EMS Coordinator Mike McEvoy speaks during a press conference in Clifton Park Tuesday.

SARATOGA COUNTY — County officials on Tuesday provided an update on how they are responding to cases of coronavirus, including two infected students within the Shenendehowa Central School District.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the school district sent out an alert notifying the public that there had been two positive tests for the COVID-19 virus within the district — one is a student at Acadia Middle School and the other is a private school student who rides a district school bus.

“We are writing to inform you that we have been notified that a student at Acadia Middle School and a private school student that rides a Shenendehowa School bus both have a confirmed case of COVID-19,” the school district said in its statement. “We have been in contact with the Saratoga County Health Department and they will reach out to those individuals who have been in close contact to provide instructions about quarantine. So if you haven’t been contacted, they have told us that it’s because they have not identified you or your child as a close contact.”

The school the non-Shen student attended was not included in the alert.

Speaking from the Clifton Park Town Hall on Tuesday morning from the headquarters of the Halfmoon Emergency Medical Services, town supervisors and first-responders outlined how they are responding to rapid changes in protocol and state regulations.

“The situation is day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute,” Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said.

The goal of the press conference, he said, was to address what has been over the past few days an influx of questions and concerns from local and county residents as to how exactly first-responders are working with the public to answer calls while also being at high risk for contracting the virus by being in close proximity to many different people. 

To make dissemination of information easier, Barrett said, various towns in the county, including Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Malta, Wilton and Moreau had opted to work together in a joint task force.

“We decided, as municipalities very similar to each other, that we could combine resources when applicable, share knowledge, share best practices and also provide additional support to the county and the community organizations that we work with each and every day,” he said.

According to  Mike McEvoy, Saratoga County EMS coordinator, his department recognized early in the pandemic that first-responders need to remain in their specific roles. That means, he said, over the last few weeks, fewer police officers and EMS personnel have been responding to 911 calls for fire emergencies, and firefighting personnel have largely been not responding to medical calls.

First-responders have also upped the intensity of the screening they conduct when answering calls, McEvoy said. 

Currently, when people call for services, they are generally asked if they have any flu-like symptoms so first-responders can prepare for the situation, outfitting themselves in masks and protective gowns, as well as masks for the callers, if needed, he said. 

He added that the county has access to stockpiled resources, including protective masks, from the state and federal government. Soon, most likely within the next few days, he said, EMS responders will be preparing to widen the scope of their responses and will be able to transport sick people to treatment sites that are located outside of hospitals.

Keeping emergency medical service workers well-equipped and prepared is a large task, he said, but one that will help serve the community.

“Nobody is more on the front lines, more at risk, and more capable of keeping the public calm in this situations than EMS workers,” he said.

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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