N.H. First Responders Get Rapid Testing, New Disinfecting Sprayers | New Hampshire Public Radio

N.H. First Responders Get Rapid Testing, New Disinfecting Sprayers

Oct 14, 2020

New Hampshire first responders now have access to COVID-19 test results within 15 minutes. ClearChoiceMD and ConvenientMD will start to provide those tests this week.

Health officials say there’s not a lot of opportunity for social distancing among first responders, and expanded rapid testing should help with staffing concerns.

Nashua Fire Chief Brian Rhodes says none of his staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, but that rapid testing will help keep first responders on the job. First responders in Nashua are only tested if they exhibit symptoms and get wellness checks multiple times a day, he said.

“The No. 1 reason is, look, let’s make sure that our people are safe. Two, to be able to get them back to work quicker, and three, it also could help alleviate the stress that is caused by the coworkers who have potentially been exposed to the person who was tested.”

The Department of Safety announced on Wednesday that ambulances will also be provided with new electrostatic disinfecting sprayers that will allow for faster cleaning of ambulances and equipment. 

The new sprayers, funded by the Granite State Health Care Coalition, will be distributed to transport services first, before non-transport vehicles are able to access them.

“One is not higher priority than the other, but in distribution we thought that the disinfectors would be better served going to transport services first, and then we would distribute the additional sprayers to the non-transport services,” said New Hampshire Bureau of EMS Chief Justin Romanello. “Getting an ambulance back in service is definitely a higher priority, so that’s why we went with that plan.”

According to Romanello, 93 sprayers were made available to 167 transport services in the state and may first be distributed to communities with higher infection rates. He says another shipment is expected in about a month and a half.