Emergency providers shift protocols, guarding against virus

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The presence of COVID-19 is affecting just about every facet of life right now. That includes emergency personnel. Metro Communications has initiated a screening tool to assist dispatchers when gathering information for non-trauma events.

Staff will ask callers if the patient has experienced symptoms associated with the virus, if they have had contact with someone displaying flu-like symptoms, and ask about recent travel history. If there is a chance for respondents to contract the virus, they will use personal protective equipment. This will help fire, police, and EMS to evaluate the situation and respond quickly and efficiently.

Police are also looking to limit person to person contact and are asking people to file more reports online for less immediate threats such as: harassing phone calls, lost property, theft, vandalism, vehicle vandalism, and thefts from vehicles.

"Like many departments across the country, we're taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19," said Lieutenant Jon Thum of the Sioux Falls Police Department. "By making a few changes locally we hope to impact that, keep the public safe, our officers safe, and still provide a high level of service."

The online resource for reporting issues to police has been available since 2012, but emergency staff encourage more use during this time.