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Harrison first responders taking extra precautions due to coronavirus concerns

(KY3)
Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 3:03 PM CDT
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​First responders can't pick and choose which emergency to go to, and if they're sick, the city might be in trouble.

"They have to operate. We have to make sure they're well," said Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson.

Jackson said that's why the city of Harrison is locking down their building, unless you make an appointment.

And even then, before you walk in you'll be screened.

"We're taking temperatures. We're asking questions. We're handing out the wipes to the employees when they come in," Jackson said.

Police Chief Chris Graddy said the department is taking extra precautions and do have protective gear like masks and gloves if they are going into a place where someone is sick.

"If it's something that can be handled over the phone, we would rather our officers do that than to have to go out and contact the people on a face-to-face basis," Graddy said.

Still, he said it would take a toll on the department if an officer got sick.

"They have a good chance of recovering. We just have to quarantine them for 14 days right now. And that's taking resources away from the department," Graddy said.

And he said they could also spread that virus to people who may not have as good a chance of getting better.

Fire Chief Marc Lowery said first responders don't have a choice on what emergencies they respond to, but it's worrisome that they could be exposed to sick people.

"Even if it's a car accident, we still have that same exposure potential there," Lowery said.

But both Lowery and Graddy want people to be reassured. If there is an emergency, they will be there.

"We have to stay here and take care of our citizens, and we're going to. We've just got to be a little more mindful when we step into those calls," Lowery said.

The mayor is also encouraging curb-side pick up, not to go inside restaurants, and do not panic buy.

He also said North Arkansas Regional Medical Center has a drive-thru screening clinic outside its plaza, which is the former Bear State Bank building on Highway 65, to test for coronavirus. The hospital says if you have mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough or body aches, this drive-thru clinic will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Please call 870-414-4010 before leaving home.

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