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First responders dealing with COVID-19 precautions while protecting the community

Many people from the private and public sector are being told to just stay home, but for our first responders that's not an option.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Being a first responder has suddenly become more complicated due to COVID-19. How are first responders protecting themselves at this time?

Many people from the private and public sector are being told to just stay home, but for our first responders that's not an option.

"We're dependent on our first responders whether they are in the field or here in the jail, so it's incumbent upon them to stay healthy, to take care of themselves, to take care of their family," Nueces County Sheriff JC Hooper said.

Hooper said the jail and McKinzie Jail Annex are on a tuberculosis protocol every day of the year.

"Threats aren't something new to us. These threats are something we deal with or we are concerned about daily, so all of our medical supplies and we are well stocked," Hooper said.

Hooper said they have some of cleanest facilities in the county, with a full medical ward and isolation units, making it tough for the coronavirus to sneak in.

"It's next to impossible to transmit something to the inmates because there is no physical contact. All of the visitation is done at a glass window," Hooper said.

Every inmate and visitor that goes into the jail is screened and are asked questions related to coronavirus like travel and symptoms. The concern lies more with employees.

The sheriff is urging employees to follow CDC guidelines like hygiene and protecting themselves from getting sick.

As far as the Corpus Christi Police Department, officials there said there is no change in protocol or service to the community.

"The fire department is engaging in updating our operational plan on how we respond to calls for service," said Chief Robert Rocha of the Corpus Christi Fire Department.

Firefighters and EMS have placed a captain at Metrocom to help interpret some of the medical calls coming in, and if they suspect the caller has COVID-19 symptoms, they are prepared.

"We will dress out one of the paramedics in full personally protective equipment with eye wear, masks, gloves, maybe even a gown," Rocha said.

Upon arrival, first paramedics will do a personal assessment to determine if the person is showing COVID-19  symptoms and either take them to the hospital or the Public Health District. Firefighters are also keeping stations clean and disinfecting every chance they get along with their equipment and ambulances.

CCFD officials are asking people to call the Public Health District first if you feel you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms. Chief Rocha asks callers to let dispatchers know their symptoms.

"Make sure that if it becomes a case where we have to take a heightened security in our response, please let us know and help us do our jobs so that we can be safe and we keep you safe," Rocha said.

All three agencies said they are telling all employees if they are sick to just stay home.

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