Local News


Las Vegas, Clark County first responders prepare for coronavirus

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 00:39:12-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The coronavirus has moved into Nevada's neighboring state with California declaring a state of emergency Wednesday, as it reported its first death - bringing the death toll in the US to 11.

As coronavirus continues to spread in more places, Las Vegas area first responders are changing the way they operate.

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Public Information Officer Tim Szymanski says though there are no confirmed cases in Nevada, they're cautious.

"This is not the first time something like this has occurred for us. We've always been in front of it," Szymanski said.

Because when it comes to coronavirus, in a global city like Las Vegas with millions of visitors each year, LVFR isn't taking any chances.

"When a call comes in, the communications personnel here will ask certain questions such as did they travel to certain foreign countries. Did they have certain types of symptoms? And we think that person may have that virus we will notify the crews to take precautions. We will also notify the facility that the person is ready to accept that person also," Szymanski said.

The crews already have protective gear like gloves and masks in their units, but if they need extra, Symanzki says they are prepared.

"Every few hours we're checking with the CDC and SNHD to see if there are any changes that we should make," Szymanski said.

Meanwhile, Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck says he's also been preparing for the virus's impact here since the first reported case in China.

"We saw this with H1N1, and we're taking the same precautions," Steinbeck said.

And CCFD is taking a proactive approach.

"We have had to get more of that personal protective equipment so that we can protect our people and not have our people be carriers throughout the rest of the community," Steinbeck said.

That includes eye protection, masks, and gloves.

Equipment is all thoroughly disinfected, but that's not new. This is all standard procedure.

For the coronavirus, CCFD has added an extra step.

"If we have somebody identified with coronavirus, then we would have further evaluation of our people to make sure we're not spreading it to anybody else," Steinbeck said.

That's why CCFD has a continuity of operations plan to continue to provide services even if a number of its workforce gets sick, but this is only the worst-case scenario.

Thursday, Steinbeck emphasized that preparedness is vital.

"If we were to have an earthquake a large scale power outage, those preparedness efforts are the same across the board. Who's going to take care of your sick? Who's going to take care of your animals if you go into the hospital for a little while?" Steinbeck said.