SCV law enforcement, first responders deal with coronavirus threat

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station

While no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have yet been reported in Santa Clarita, local law enforcement officials and first responders are taking steps to mitigate potential exposure.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Following a press conference held by Los Angeles County officials, including Sheriff Alex Villaneuva, that laid out the new protocols agencies and organizations are advised to follow, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station sent out a statement saying they would limit public access to the station’s lobby.

“To protect the health of the public and our personnel, and slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19, we are limiting the access to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station lobby unless you are experiencing an emergent situation, for the remainder of the month of March,” read the statement.

The restricted access does not apply to child-custody exchanges, individuals who are required to check in regularly with law enforcement or situations in which deputies would need to immediately respond to protect life, safety or property, the statement said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Headquarters released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that beginning Friday, the inmate visiting at county jail facilities has been suspended.

“Only attorney and professional visits will be allowed during this period,” said the statement. “Since the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person contact, via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, public visiting will be suspended.”

The jails at each patrol station will remain in normal operation at this time, the release said.

Those wishing to call 9-1-1, file a report or have general law enforcement questions may still either call the station at 661-255-1121 or 9-1-1.

“9-1-1 should be used for emergencies only,” said the statement. “If you are experiencing respiratory illness, please notify us when you make the call. This will allow our first responders to take any needed safety precautions prior to our arrival.”

This policy of detailing possible COVID-19 infection to operators is consistent with the policies outlined Thursday morning by Villaneuva, who said the policy moving forward would be to “screen information by asking basic questions to assess risk of COVID-19 exposure to responding personnel.”

Villaneuva said the Los Angeles County Emergency Operations Center would be fully staffed in order to respond to emergent issues that arise.

“The goal here is to protect the public (and emergency) personnel, while providing emergency law enforcement services,” said Villaneuva. “This is intended to keep the same level of service by planning the deployment of resources as we move through this situation.”

Los Angeles County Fire Department

The Los Angeles County Fire Department released its own statement that said the only death due to the coronavirus in L.A. County, as of Thursday, came after firefighters and paramedics responded to a cardiac arrest call on March 9.

“Our personnel provided our standard excellent patient care and managed to resuscitate and transport the patient to a local area hospital,” said the statement. “Unfortunately, the patient passed away.”

L.A. County Department of Public Health officials confirmed later that the patient had COVID-19.

Those Fire Department personnel who responded to the call have now been quarantined to their homes and were symptom-free as of Thursday.

“The safety and welfare of our first responders is of the utmost importance to our department,” said the statement, adding that the department follows safety-equipment guidelines and patient handling in accordance with DPH and Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Officials at the Fire Department declined to state where the patient was when they went into cardiac arrest, citing restrictions placed on them by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

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