Increased communication for first responders on COVID-19 issues

SPRINGFIELD TWP., Ohio (WTVG) - Local heath officials are promising increased communication with first responders after some firefighters were not told they'd transferred a patient who was eventually diagnosed with COVID-19.

Pretty soon, that increased communication could be the law.

This issue came to light in Springfield Township last week when first responders were surprised to learn they'd transported someone a few days earlier who turned out to be a positive test. From that lesson, things are changing for the better.

When there is a medical emergency, fire and EMS personnel from departments across the area will respond, but that response may change.

"In reality, this changes our lives forever. It addresses how we're going to perform and conduct our business from this point forward,” said Chief Barry Cousino of the Springfield Township Fire Department.

Cousino knows this all too well. Recently, some of his fire fighters transported a person to Saint Luke's Hospital in Maumee. That patient turned out to be positive for COVID-19. The fire fighters had to quarantine.

“I don't know that it slipped though the crack. I think we're really early on into this process and we were all new to this. Historically, the hospitals have always informed us of any positive tests,” said Chief Cousino.

State representative Haraz Ghanbari has introduced legislation forcing hospitals to disclose not only a positive test but a presumptive positive for COVID-19 to first responders.

"The concern is if they go back to the police station, they'd go back to the fire department or the EMS facility without knowing there's a high suspicion that an individual they treated or transported has the corona virus. That has the potential to cripple an entire department," said Rep. Ghanbari.

The legislation should debated in the next few days, bringing what could be a little piece of mind in a difficult time.

“Tomorrow is a different day and as we go on it becomes more and more difficult, I think for us,” said Chief Cousino.

This is not the only legislation that’s expected to be debated. The legislature is the only body that can set a new election day. In-person voting was postponed last week.

One more deadline looming, that’s the Ed Choice voucher debate. That’s been somewhat lost in everything happening with coronavirus. That voucher window is supposed to open on April 1.