New measures aim to limit law enforcement’s exposure to COVID-19, but responses to life-and-death emergencies won’t be affected, local first responders said this week.
The Scott County Sheriff’s Office said any call for service that is not an in-progress or life-threatening incident will begin with a phone call from a deputy. Dispatchers are also vetting callers with questions about coronavirus symptoms, travel history and if someone in the home is sick.
“Assuring our patrol deputies remain healthy is one of our top priorities. It is imperative they remain healthy so they can be here for you,” the department stated Tuesday. “You may be asked to submit information to them via email, text, or picture message to assist with building a case.”
In Allina ambulance will now serve as the first responder to most medical calls instead of the fire department, City Administrator Brad Larson said.
Allina’s regional coverage area means their response times will likely be slower than local police and fire units, he said. Fire Chief Andrew Slama said the change helps limit local responders’ exposure to a potentially infected person.
“We’re just trying to take every advantage right now,” Slama said.
The Savage Police Department is also looking for ways to limit their risk.
Savage Police Capt. Bruce Simon said the department is altering employee shifts and doing investigations and other work from home when possible.
The police records staff, for example, split into two teams in order to alternate during the week.
“What our concern, of course, is that we would be exposed in the public and that person would bring it back,” Simon said.
“Our goal is like anybody else — to flatten the curve,” he added, referring to the nationwide push to slow the pace of new coronavirus cases so hospitals and other parts of society aren’t overwhelmed.