Coronavirus, News

New Orleans EMS Continues Work as COVID-19 Hits Department

Emily Nichols, M.D., address the media Thursday. (Facebook screen grab)

Several New Orleans EMS employees are awaiting test results after being exposed to COVID-19 patients, according to officials.

Related: Complete COVID-19 Coverage from JEMS

Emily Nichols, M.D., said about 75 percent of employees were wearing the proper protective equipment while caring for patients. Nichols said 28 employees are showing symptoms and are right now quarantined at home.

One EMS worker is positive for COVID-19. All EMS workers are wearing masks on every call, and every patient is given a mask to wear.

“The very first positive cases that came back actually didn’t have the typical symptoms, fever, cough and shortness of breath,” Nichols said. “There was abdominal pain and an altered mental status and that’s frightening because we realize that COVID-19 is so much more prevalent in the community than we know or see.”

Bill Salmeron, Chief of New Orleans EMS said extra help is needed. Volunteer EMT’s and paramedics are being partnered up with paid employees to staff ambulances.