Police and firefighters make changes to protect from pandemic

Sheriff Matt Myers recently posted a photo of himself wearing a mask on the sheriff’s department Facebook page.

Local emergency workers are having to make changes to protect themselves and the public from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers explains that deputies are getting more information before they show up for a call so they can make judgments on whether to wear protective gear.

Myers said that he expects all deputies and firefighters in the county to begin wearing protective equipment on every call, but right now that is a matter of having enough supplies.

Myers explains that jail staff have new procedures in place to protect themselves and inmates.

Last week, Capt. Mike Wilson with the Columbus Fire Department said that city firefighters and CRH paramedics were making changes to their procedures. Firefighters usually run on all paramedic calls and frequently arrive first on the scene.

Wilson said firefighters are now waiting for an ambulance to arrive and quickly assess the scene of non-life-threatening calls.

On Tuesday, Bartholomew County Commissioners approved a retroactive claim for the purchase of 20,000 of the in-demand N95 respirator masks by the sheriff. The plan is to split the masks between county and city emergency personnel and eventually to split the cost, said Commissioners President Carl Lienhoop. The first half of the purchase was paid for on a county credit card by the sheriff at a cost of just over $52,000 dollars with the second half of the purchase due on delivery.

Commissioners approved the expenditure.