Myrtle Beach, SC (WMBF) - With one Ebola scare in the area, and many more going on around the country, local paramedics and firefighters are coming to one realization: if there were to be a case here, they would be the first exposed.
So now, they are asking the important questions.
"What do we need to do on our end to make sure that everybody's covered?" asked Marty Eells, training officer for Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue.
What the department decided to do is improve their protection level and education, but not their protocol.
Starting next month, the Myrtle Beach Fire Department will start training in new, more protective HAZMAT suits. The suits will cover someone from head-to-toe, without leaving any openings for chemical or vapor contagions.
"It's elevating the game a little bit higher, it's taking it to another level," said Eells.
On top of the new gear, emergency responders are training on the best ways to deal with a possible outbreak.
"There's a lot of fear that's been instigated through all this, but we're also educating on what to look for, signs and symptoms, whether or not anyone has traveled outside the United States," he said.
That education also includes letting first responders understand they can be safe and treat a patient at the same time. If they follow the same protocol they always have, problems shouldn't arise.
"I think we've been prepared in the past for any type of issues and that we continue to do so. It's been our policy to give our people and personnel the best protection we can," Eells said.
He believes Myrtle Beach Fire rescue also has a distinct advantage. Many of the first responders have taken part in what is called live agent training.
It prepared them for all kinds of extreme situations like serine gas or anthrax, so emergency personnel are well equipped to handle anything that comes to the area.