Hurricane training for EMS crews looks different during COVID-19

This story is part of our 2020 hurricane special Storm Ready 2020: Preparing in a Pandemic
WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- When a storm moves in, you have police and fire getting ready, and you have Emergency Medical Services.

They are the folks who head out when someone needs medical help. And this whole COVID-19 situation is changing how they are training.

"We are not getting into a classroom and compacted into a small area. That's the smart and right thing to do right now," said Jeffrey Hammerstein, the assistant chief for Wake County EMS.

He says training in the age of COVID-19, like many other things, has moved online. But since the storms aren't stopping, neither are they.

"Where we would normally spend a day in a classroom training, and reviewing and learning and learning new material, that's done online for now," he said.

The chief says he hopes they get to move back to hands-on training very soon. It's essential to keep those skills sharp because during a tropical storm, or even a winter storm, they never know who they might have to help.

"Part of the problem is just the extra traffic out in severe weather, making it that much more difficult for emergency units to get where they're going," Chief Hammerstein said. "And we too are challenged by the slower response in ice or snow, or heavy rain in a hurricane, or flash flooding. All of those affect our ability to navigate as well too."

Bottom line: When any storm is bearing down, just like dealing with COVID-19, it's best to stay home and stay safe.

Even though it's the proverbial quiet before the storm, daily planning is still happening so that if a storm should head in, and you need help, EMS is ready to roll.
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