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What protocols do first responders follow to keep safe during the pandemic?

After a 10-year-old girl was shot this week, we learned the girl tested positive for COVID-19. What protocols do first responders follow for safety?

MACON, Ga. — UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.:

 Ta'Meria Evans' mother Kyerra O'Neal says her daughter was tested for COVID-19 again Friday and the result was negative.


Bibb County deputies are still investigating after a 10-year-old girl was shot this week. We learned Thursday the girl tested positive for COVID-19, so we are taking a closer look at the protocols first responders follow for safety.

RELATED: 10-year-old shot in the back in Macon

"There are a whole new set of questions that are asked on the front end on the whole call before the firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs ever get that call," Macon-Bibb Fire Chief Marvin Riggins said. 

Riggins says first responders are working to keep you and themselves safe from catching COVID-19. Riggins says dispatch asks if callers traveled to coronavirus hot spots or if you have COVID-19 symptoms. 

"Do I need to put on gowns when I go in? Do I need a Tyvek suit when I go in? Is this a situation when I will need a breathing apparatus?" Riggins said. 

Right now, Riggins says about six firefighters have tested positive, and two are in quarantine now. 

If a firefighter tests, positive they are required to quarantine. Riggins says firefighters also clean the firehouses frequently. 

"When COVID started, we acquired some protective gear, some masks, gloves, sanitizing wipes, and things like that," Captain Brad Wolfe with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office said.

The sheriff's office could not tell us how many deputies have tested positive for COVID-19, but when deputies arrive to a scene, Captain Wolfe says they practice social distancing and wear gloves. 

 "At the same time, law enforcement, EMS, and fire have always, throughout their career, run the risk of contracting or being exposed to airborne or bloodborne pathogens -- it is nothing new to us, it is just a new disease," Wolfe said.

If a deputy does test positive, they stay out of work until they are asymptomatic and test negative for COVID-19. Both men say anytime an employee test positive, it causes overtime for others because both departments are short-staffed. 

RELATED: Bibb County Sheriff's Office says shooting that injured 10-year-old girl likely targeted

RELATED: 10-year-old shot in the back in Macon

RELATED: Study shows asymptomatic children with COVID-19 can have higher viral loads than hospitalized adults

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