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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 1st, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 5 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 5

Santa Barbara County firefighters released from quarantine after negative COVID-19 test

By MALEA MARTIN

Four Santa Barbara County firefighters who were quarantined after a potential exposure to COVID-19 while responding to a call on March 24 were released from isolation, SBC Fire Department Public Information Officer Daniel Bertucelli told the Sun. Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County public health officer, confirmed in a March 30 teleconference that the patient the firefighters came into contact with tested negative for the virus.

“They’ve been cleared and they’ve been sent out,” Bertucelli said. “They were quarantined at an off-site location.”

Bertucelli said that the fire department is taking extra precautions to minimize exposure when responding to calls. 

“We’re having one firefighter on the crew go in and make the initial contact with the patient and make that determination if more people need to go in to assist,” he said.

Because the March 24 response involved an outdoor medical emergency, all responders made patient contact and had to be quarantined. Bertucelli said that as of March 30, there were no additional exposures or quarantined firefighters to report.

To protect first responders, the fire department is ensuring that their firefighters are wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) on every call, which includes gowns, masks, goggles, and gloves. Some PPE is also placed on the patients to reduce the possibility of transmission.

“We’re immediately placing a mask on the patient and we’re maintaining our 6-feet distances whenever possible,” Bertucelli said. “A lot of the questioning portion of our job, when we’re asking people what’s wrong, can be done from a distance.”

Amid local and nationwide concerns over shortages on essential PPE such as N95 masks, Bertucelli said the fire department is keeping up its supply so far.

“Our logistics section is working very hard in trying to ensure that we’re maintaining our supply of PPE, but it’s definitely difficult to maintain that supply,” he said. “We’re working hard to maintain it, as of now it is currently maintained, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

In the March 30 Santa Barbara County teleconference, 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart said that the county is “continuing aggressively to get in line with the state’s allocations of that equipment.”

Hart also called out local efforts to sew PPE in case supplies get low.

“There are people who are working feverishly at home to sew personal protective equipment that could be used in a supplemental way with the official equipment that is being delivered by the state,” he said. “At this point in time we have sufficient supplies, but we are trying to stay ahead of that.”

Hart also confirmed that 1 million N95 masks were allocated to Santa Barbara County through the state of California’s distribution process. 

“Those masks are being allocated through the county’s process that has been a collaboration of all of the local health providers,” Hart said. “The hospitals, the health clinics have all worked together to create a process whereby those resources are fairly allocated to the different parts of the county and the different medical needs of the county.”

As of March 30, Santa Barbara County had 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 20 cases from the last report. Of the 20 new cases, nine reside in Santa Maria, one in Orcutt, six in North County, three in Lompoc, and one in the city of Santa Barbara.








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