LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - When emergency calls come in, Lufkin Paramedic and Firefighter Cody Walton goes out to assist those in need, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This morning alone, we’ve probably been out to four or five COVID-positive patients already,” Walton said.
Starting today, Walton and other first responders like Lufkin Fire Chief Jesse Moody may go to the homes of COVID-19 patients for another reason.
“We seen there was a need for people to stay at home and maintain their quarantine while they are infected with the virus,” Moody said. “So, the easiest way that we found to do that was to help them [to] deliver their groceries and helping them with medications.”
It’s called the Community Para-Medicine Program, where off-duty Lufkin Firefighters and Paramedics deliver groceries and medications to the doorsteps of those infected with COVID-19. It’s funded by the CARES Act. Right now, first responders can volunteer to help while off-duty, to help keep on-duty staff assisting emergency calls. Walton says at least 10 have already volunteered.
“We’re going out to these people anyway,” Walton said. “This is probably safer than what we’re doing, and it’s going to make it safer in the future for us. Then, we don’t have to get on the med unit and go out to pick them up because they are getting sicker.”
To qualify, Angelina County residents must either be awaiting COVID-19 test results or confirmed positive and meet CDC criteria of an infectious patient. You must make your own selections and pay for them via pickup apps. Then, first responders will deliver it to you for no fee on their end.
“We don’t care what you order,” Moody said. “We’re not going to be inspecting the bags. We’re going to drop them off on your porch and let you know that they’re there. We’ll do the same thing with your medications. You’ll designate us as the pickup person at your pharmacy. We’ve spoke to all the pharmacies and grocery stores, and they’re all fine with it because it keeps people home.”
Moody says the service ends when the person is no longer contagious.
“It is a bit difficult knowing that you have it sometimes because some people are asymptomatic, but we do have testing now,” Moody said. “Some people are only contagious for 10 days; others for a month. So, we’ll help you as long as you need help.”
“We’ve got to keep these people at home who are infected so we can slow this down,” Walton said. “If we don’t ever get it slowed down, we’re never going to get back to normal. And I think everyone is ready to get back to some sense of normalcy now.”
If you qualify for the service, call (903) 633-0386. Chief Moody says that number is answered every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. He says they will try to deliver the same day, but high demand may delay some orders.