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For the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, the coronavirus pandemic meant its more than 150 volunteer paramedics, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel were providing frontline support during unprecedented times to their neighbors.

At the onset of the pandemic, the rescue squad quickly pivoted to provide the greatest amount of safety to both its staff and the patients it helps, like developing new protocols to identify and screen potential COVID-19 patients when they call for medical assistance and limiting exposure to such patients who might need ambulatory care by asking to meet them at the door. The squad also limited crew members who interacted with COVID patients, to reduce the risk to emergency personnel, but also, during shortages of personal protective equipment, to preserve PPE.

Additionally, after patients had been transported to the hospital and transferred into its care, BCCRS personnel followed extensive decontamination and cleaning procedures at both the site of the hospital and at the BCCRS station. The procedures, while “time-consuming,” were “essential for keeping subsequent patients, emergency crews and their families and friends safe,” according to BCCRS.

The BCCRS also developed the BCCRS COVID-19 Task Force, chaired by Megan O’Brien, a Ph.D. epidemiologist, which has provided analysis, leadership and insights to Montgomery County’s Fire and Rescue Service and helped inform county emergency response. The task force includes other members with advanced degrees in health care, statistics and modeling and has met almost weekly since the beginning of the pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, the BCCRS has also hosted a weekly food drive, serving hundreds of families in need.

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.