CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In order to limit the threat of COVID-19 to first responders, West Virginia’s 911 centers will be screening questions recommended by the CDC to callers, according to a release from the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM).
The release stated that these questions will come only after responders have already been dispatched. The 911 operator will then ask the caller if those responders need to take additional measures to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
Additionally, the release stated that the screening won’t slow response times, but will allow emergency personnel to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) or take other precautions while en route.
“Our 911 Centers have a great responsibility to assist the public and protect first responders. While the added questions may seem somewhat burdensome, the overall goal is getting the public the help they need and ensuring the safety of those coming to help them,” said Dean Meadows, President of the West Virginia Emergency Management Council. “These additional questions will help slow the spread, flatten the curve and make West Virginia whole again.”
The release stated that while 911 must remain available for emergencies, there are other sources for information and help regarding COVID-19:
- People with questions about possible symptoms should first contact their doctor or their local health department.
- WV 211 is available by dialing 211, texting the ZIP code to 898-211 or by visiting wv211.org.
- For health or medical questions regarding COVID-19, there’s the West Virginia 24/7 hotline at (800) 887-4304 and the website coronavirus.wv.gov.
The release stated that this guidance was developed with the assistance of the West Virginia Emergency Management Council and the West Virginia Enhanced 911 Council.