Fifteen first responders from the Fitch-Rona Fire/EMS District and Dane County turned out for COVID-19 tests on Thursday, June 25, at the Verona Fire Station.
The tests were completed by Ficth-Rona EMS paramedics and were part of a push by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi to get 3,500 test kits for police, firefighters and EMS personnel.
A nasal swab was used to test first responders and Verona’s testing is the third of 10 testing sites.
Patrick Anderson, Fitch-Rona EMS Chief said a swab test can notify a person the coronavirus disease is in their body at that moment. But a blood test shows whether a person has ever been infected with COVID-19, even if they didn’t have symptoms.
“All of our departments do self screening before we start every shift so all of our responders are very amiliar with the signs and symptoms of the virus,” Anderson said “This process is meant to catch those who don’t present with any symptoms.”
Blood tests, in contrast, look for a person’s antibodies to a virus, which show past exposure and possibly future immunity.
Anderson said 25% of the positive tests are from asymptomatic patients.
“People don’t know they have it and they are out in the community spreading it,” Anderson said.
Exact Sciences in Madison, completes molecular analysis testing to look for the presence of the virus’ genetic material. If a result is positive, a first responder is notified by Dane County Public Health in three to five days.
The first station and EMS services are decontaminated by employees every day. If a Fitch-Rona Fire/EMS employee tests positive they are required to quarantine for 14 days, Anderson said.
Anderson said if a firefighter or EMT tests positive, they have to be quarantined for 10 days and be fever free for three days before they can return to work.
First responders who work in Dane County can take the COVID-19 test through a request from their respective departments or their primary health care provider.
Positive tests will be reported by the county to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.