Wake County EMS crews on front lines prepare as county sees increased numbers of COVID-19 cases

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the number of COVID-19 cases in Wake County grows well over 100 cases, paramedics are on the front lines.

"We're there," said Wake County EMS Assistant Chief Jeffrey Hammerstein. "We're there for you."

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE: Wake County up to 121 cases

Wake County EMS crews treat and transport coronavirus patients while also doing their best to protect themselves.

"Crews are definitely concerned, on edge," Hammerstein said. "I try to talk a lot with folks and say, 'How are you feeling?' The pretty regular answer that I get myself is, 'Ya, we're nervous. It's there. It's hanging out there. It's some anxiety but we're making it. We're pushing through.'"

Crews put on protective gowns, masks, safety glasses and gloves when around patients with flu or coronavirus symptoms.

But getting enough supplies has been difficult. They have to reuse N95 masks.

"Reusing the N95 masks is definitely a thing that has to happen," Hammerstein said. "That's a CDC recommendation. It comes from some research that yes, this is something you can do. That doesn't mean they last forever. That's not what we wish we had to do, by any means, but if we don't do some of that, then we're facing running out, all together, of N95s and not having the protection we need at all."

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The call volume at Wake County EMS has been down, likely because more people are staying at home.

But the fear is the number of COVID-19 cases could keep climbing, overwhelming them.

"We've got to be concerned that it could pick up, if we do start to spike with cases and that generates more and more calls," Hammerstein said. "Then we will definitely get into the issue of, do we have enough people, do we have the staffing available and have to work through that."

Hammerstein urges folks to follow Wake County's stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

If you feel you have COVID-19, call your doctor. Don't call 911 unless it's an emergency. If you need to call 911, make sure you tell them your symptoms and those of any around you, to protect yourself and first responders.

RELATED: What to do if you think you have coronavirus symptoms

Here's what you should do if you suspect you have COVID-19:
  • Here are steps provided by the CDC if you feel you are sick with COVID-19.

  • Wake County offered advice on what you can do on your part to prevent emergency departments from getting overwhelmed.
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