Vallie McConnell

Vallie McConnell of Shippensburg Area EMS is ready to screen patients wearing personal protective equipment to help safeguard her from spread of the coronavirus.



First responders are among those on the front lines battling this global health crisis.

They can’t work from home or close their business to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Capt. Heather Franzoni of Shippensburg Area EMS recently shed a light on a day in the life of an emergency responder during these tough times.

“We currently are screening patients from 6 feet upon entry. For presumptive cases, we use full PPE until we confirm the patient does not meet criteria. We also may ask a patient to wear a procedure mask to protect our crew,” she explained.

Franzoni said the department has the protective gear it needs while staff members are working in the field.

“Since the Ebola outbreak in the U.S. and subsequent flu crises, we have stockpiled and rotated enough PPE to outfit the department in case an epidemic such as this would unfold,” Franzoni noted. “The concern with COVID-19 is that we face an uncertain timeline for stabilization of the situation, whereas typical flu seasons can be estimated. We want to make sure we are ahead of the curve so if anyone has the ability to help provide PPE or funding for us to purchase it, we would be very appreciative. We also coordinate PPE distribution for the Shippensburg Police Department and Shippensburg Fire Department. We take this responsibility very seriously because we are making sure all of the first responders are protected.”

Franzoni has the following message to the public regarding the following of guidelines to help safeguard those on the front lines:

“Most important is to be up front with the 9-1-1 center about your symptoms so we can be prepared. If possible, meet us at the door so we don’t have to expose entire crews to the inside of your residence. Understand that we may modify some treatments to help protect you and our staff. Just as important, is to follow the CDC recommendations for social distancing, hygiene and sheltering. The best solution is for you to not get sick so we don’t have to meet under these terrible conditions.”

SAEMS also released the following news release this week pertaining to its capital campaign and the coronavirus:

“Shippensburg Area EMS administration has decided not to pursue the original plan of starting our annual capital campaign drive to raise funds for a paramedic vehicle replacement. We want our staff and community members to focus on their families, their health, and staying safe during this national health crisis. Our staff members are being vigilant, and taking all precautions to keep themselves and our community safe.   This is a tough time for our nation and our community; Ship Area EMS wanted to reach out to our community and just give the reassurance that we are still here, and will continue to serve our community 24/7. Changes were made last week to building operations and bill payment are as follows: we ask that community members do not come to the EMS station, and utilize the mail, phone or our drop box outside the building for all payments. During the declared emergency any citizen that is unable to pay their ambulance bill should contact us to discuss options. Administration at Ship Area EMS will not pursue collections during the national health crisis if the patient contacts us to discuss their bill and options during this delicate time.   We encourage you to educate your family with facts and prevention versus fear. Research shows that if communities work together on prevention, we will be able to slow down the virus spread. We are here to serve your needs and will continue to protect our community, and provide the highest level of regional emergency medical services.If you are looking to help out our first responders during this time any donations sent into the department will be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE). We appreciate the community’s support as always. If you have any questions and/or concerns, a supervisor is always available at: (717) 532-6069, Extension 123.”

Working in the field day-to-day during this unprecedented time definitely brings its challenges to first responders, according to Franzoni.

“It’s challenging. We have consolidated operations to our headquarters station to better monitor our staff and control risk exposure,” she noted. “Crews are health screened several times per shift. We have modified response profiles and staffing matrixes to ensure we still meet the community needs while protecting our own. Most importantly, we are looking out for the welfare of our responders. If our people are out of the fight then the entire community suffers, so we need to do whatever we can to protect them.”

Thank you to all of Shippensburg’s first responders for all you do to keep us safe, now and through all of the tough times we face.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.