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Central Texas, Brazos Valley first responders fare better than most in Texas thanks to 'secret weapon'

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 19:11:03-04

In the most populated parts of Texas, including Central Texas and the Brazos Valley, medical and emergency services are getting close to their limits of what they can handle.

The situation has become almost dire in the Houston area as hospitals fill up and first responders start falling to COVID-19.

But a 25 News investigation revealed Central Texas and Brazos Valley first respoders have a better record than most in keeping the virus at bay thanks to good practices and their "secret weapon."

Two things government leaders worry about most during this COVID-19 pandemic is the impact on hospitals and first responders.

While the impact on hospitals has increased lately, the virus has barely affected Central Texas and Brazos Valley fire departments.

Make no mistake though, work as a paramedic or first responder in a pandemic has never been tougher says Lieutrenant Phillip Burnett of the Waco Professional Firefighers Association.

"We are having to make sure that we are extra vigilant on the PPE that we wear, making sure we take care of the PPE because it is still hard to come by," he said.

Central Texas fire departments do have one secret weapon at their disposal- hypochlorous acid. It's made from water, salt, vinegar, and an electric jolt.

Experts say do not try making it at home. However the acid helps the professionals, as they use it to spray down and disinfect everything and anything they use.

At Waco Fire, it's helped prevent positive coronavirus tests among firefighters.

"As far as right now, I don't believe we've had any. We have had some exposures," Lt. Burnett explained.

Those who were exposed took a couple of days off and then tested negative.

Temple had one positive test and about a dozen short quarantines who later tested negative.

Bryan had zero positive tests, while College Station only had 5 self-quarantines.

Lt. Burnett says departments work hard to keep their exposure.

"Most importantly is that we continue that high level of service that the citizens of Waco are used to," he said.

He says it's the same with other departments.

Lt. Burnett also says we can all help our first responsders when we call for help.

"Please be completely thorough with your call takers. They're gonna ask you questions and make sure that you tell 'em if you've had a fever and that we know, that way we know going in what we're dealing with and we can prepare to deal with that situation as it comes," he said.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Texas, it becomes the job of all Texans to protect not just our hospitals, but our first reponders by suiting up and giving them the information they need to help fight the virus.