Rockford Fire Department adopts new COVID-19 procedure

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- People across the Stateline are taking unprecedented steps to protect themselves from the Coronavirus, and that burden is hardest on workers on the front line, like the Rockford Fire Department.

"We've just increased that level of questionnaire and following other directions as far as what's the best way to minimize the risk to the emergency responders while keeping that level of service to the citizens," Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten said.

The department adopted new procedures for its crews, starting with strict personal protection guidelines, and most recently changing the way crews respond to possible COVID-19 cases.

"If you meet the criteria of an illness that we are looking at with specific symptoms we will ask you to come out of your house, our paramedics will give you a mask to place over, over your face," Bergsten said.

The goal is to identify people who show symptoms of coronavirus before emergency personnel arrive on scene. Dispatchers will ask a series of questions geared towards identifying what symptoms a patient has.

"I think it's going to save a lot of people from contracting the disease honestly," E.M.S. training coordinator Brian Park said.

Officials from many different backgrounds agree, information is changing rapidly, but this policy could be here to stay.

"Long term this might be the new normal as far as how we treat patients that are sick, to better protect them and protect our emergency responders, that were not taking unnecessary risk exposing people that shouldn't be exposed to any kind of illness that can be transmitted," Bergsten said.