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On the front lines: Here's what precautions Austin paramedics are taking against coronavirus

More than 500 Austin-Travis County paramedics will risk exposure to the virus as they respond to medical emergencies.

AUSTIN, Texas — While the Austin area is being encouraged to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak, not everyone can work from home.

More than 500 Austin-Travis County paramedics are risking exposure to the virus during every shift while they respond to medical emergencies.

"They truly are the first line of defense, they are fully prepared, they are fully equipped, not only to do that safely for themselves but for the patient," said Commander Mike Benavides, a public information officer with Austin-Travis County EMS.

Paramedics will be required to monitor their symptoms during every shift.

"They are to self monitor their temperature, taking it every 12 hours and then logging it," said Commander Benavides.

With stress and confusion over the virus, EMS Chief Jasper Brown said it's important to be mindful when it's appropriate to dial 911.

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"Those with mild symptoms, we certainly don't want to take to the hospital and overload the hospital system if they can stay at home and take care of themselves there," said Chief Jasper Brown.

When arriving at calls, they will also limit how many responders are coming in direct contact with a patient. 

"We're going to try to minimize the amount of responders who make entry and have access to the patient as much as possible, now obviously that's going to be determined by the criticality of the patient and the kind of resources we need," he said.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, Austin-Travis County EMS encourages you to consult with your local physician about what's the best course of action.

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