WAYNE, NJ –Wayne First Aid and Safety Commissioner Robert Coe spoke to TAPinto Wayne in a phone interview, sharing his thoughts on the coronavirus, and how the all-volunteer first aid squad is handling the changes wrought by the pandemic.
“So far, we’ve only transported one patient who tested positively for coronavirus,” said Coe, mentioning that he felt that a lot of people who get sick with coronavirus will suffer only minor flu-like symptoms and stay home.
His calm voice and confident tone belied his next statement.
“My level of worry for the members is high,” said Coe. “But we are taking great precautions to make sure we limit the exposure of the virus to the crews.”
In his last update at the Wayne Town Council meeting on March 4, Coe asked that anyone calling 911 let the operator know if they thought they had the coronavirus. This was to make sure the responding squad members knew to safeguard against disease transmission.
Coe was asked what these safeguards are. “We wear an N-95 mask, some type of eye-shield, and a gown,” he said. “After the patient is transported, the rigs get deconned [decontaminated], we throw everything in the garbage, then shower, and wash the clothes. We basically treat everything as if it’s been exposed.”
The Governor’s stay at home order has had a secondary side effect, lowering the number of calls for the squad.
“We thought the volume of cases would increase,” said Coe. “But with everyone staying home, we’re not seeing the sports-related injuries, work-related injuries; even the car accidents are way down.”
Coe’s thoughts on the coronavirus: “90% of people who catch this will have minor or more flu-like symptoms then they’ll be fine. The elderly need to stay inside because everybody over sixty seems to be having a tougher time with it.”
NJ State Health Commissioner Judy Perscihilli spoke at a press conference this week saying: “if you feel sick, stay home, but if symptoms worsen, call your doctor.”
“I think that those are good suggestions,” said Coe. “If you’re having difficulty breathing, call 911. Just let them know that you might have the virus, so we take the proper precautions.”
“The increased number of positive cases I think is expected given the testing they’re doing now,’ he said. “The hope is that it will plateau with all the restrictions that have been put in place. There are still a lot of variables, but I think it will work itself out as time goes by. Hopefully, it works itself out a lot faster.”
Coe was asked to comment on the volunteers on the squad. "Wayne Township is in good hands with our crews,” he said. “These are selfless individuals out there helping the general public, putting themselves at risk in a very difficult time and I’m very proud of them all.”
Coe is especially proud of his daughter Brielle, who is a volunteer member of the first aid squad and has also volunteered at the new Passaic County COVID-19 testing site that is opening tomorrow on the campus of William Paterson University.