Local emergency response agencies outline plans to limit exposure to COVID-19

Leaders from emergency response agencies in Minneapolis and Hennepin County came together to outline their plans in order to limit the exposure to COVID-19 Tuesday.

Chief of Hennepin Emergency Medical Services Marty Scheerer said they have planned for the worst but are hoping for the best.

The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19, and in order to do that, officials say they are making adjustments when they respond to emergencies.

"We will be dividing the emergencies among us, so some days you might only see a firefighting crew responding to a 911 call, you might only see a police officer, you might only see EMS … there will be a big variety in the way we respond," said Scheerer.

Officials said they’ll be reducing the number of people responding to emergencies so they can limit the exposure to patients, their families and staff. First responders will be wearing protective gear, including masks, gowns and scrubs. If possible, those responding may keep a distance away from you in an effort to protect everyone.

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During Tuesday’s announcement, officials said it’s now more important than ever to reserve 911 calls for true emergencies. Police said you don’t need to call 911 if you are normally healthy and suspect you have the COVID-19 virus. That’s to prevent an overload on police, fire, EMS and the health care system overall.

"It’s very unique in terms of you are hearing the words social distancing. We are one of the few professions that is contrary to. We engage with our communities, we certainly need to be there to help them, and we want to continue to do that, but we want to do so in a way that limits the exposure and risks to our men and women, first responders, and as well as keep our community safe," said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

Officials said there are 36 police chiefs in the area, and they have plans in place to shuffle resources if necessary. First responders have also been looking at places like Italy and Seattle for guidance.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul declared local states of emergency. Minneapolis Police said that has been extremely helpful for them.

You can watch the full news conference below.