BEND, OR -- Winter is flu season in Central Oregon, and local emergency crews are taking steps to make sure the virus isn't spread between patients.
Bend Fire's EMS Training Captain, Petar Hossick, says crews take precautions like masking the patients and wearing goggles and gloves whenever they're near someone with the flu. "The last thing we would ever want to do is go to a flu call, get somebody to the hospital, and then the next call, go to a cardiac call or something where someone's having a heart or a stroke and then, potentially, introduce the flu to them on top of their major medical emergency. So, we're very diligent about cleaning the medics out, wiping everything down after we've had them in there, and making sure we use hospital level disinfectant that kills all viruses."
Hossick says flu spreads easily and has a long reach. "Flu, it's a droplet based contagion, so if they cough on you, the CDC says a six foot diameter around them where the droplets get on you, and you can contaminate yourself." He says most flu patients who call 911 are typically the elderly or for the very young, but anyone who has the flu should get help. "If they're feeling like they're short of breath, they can't get air in, which is often related to respiratory stuff, we recommend that they call 911, and we'll come evaluate them."
After an unexplained spike in calls this last week, Hossick says this year has been especially hard on anyone who isn't basically healthy. "We have seen a pickup of a lot of respiratory stuff, I don't know if it's all been flu, we don't screen patients specifically for that. I know the hospital has been very busy dealing with a lot of flu intake folks, and it may just be a cold or something else, but aggravating something underlying, let's say COPD, or asthma, for a lot of our patients, and they just get really short of breath."
He suggests getting a flu shot, especially if your doctor suggests it, but if you do get the flu and are considering going to the hospital, call 911, and a crew will do an evaluation.