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Flathead first responders urge people to call 911 for emergencies only

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 19:49:52-04

Flathead first responders are asking the public to take the appropriate precautions and utilize 911 appropriately.

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino told MTN that the sheriff's office has seen a spike in odd calls due to the coronavirus.

"Everyday things, like people standing too close together. People mowing their lawns, well now it's shoveling snow," said Heino. "Those are all things that they're ok doing. As long as their staying away from everyone else and at least six feet."

Heino says these calls are backing up the 911 call center. He wants to stress that law enforcement is here to protect and serve the community.

"We're still responding to emergencies absolutely. If there's a crime that needs to be reported, we're still going to take those by phone mainly," said Heino. "But please use that 911 system as an emergency line. It's not for answering questions."

If you have questions about coronavirus, Flathead County Health Department has a hotline you can call. That phone number is 406-751-8188.

Heino adds that law enforcement are not pulling people over during the stay-at-home order unless there is a traffic violation of some sort.

Kalispell Police Patrol Captain Brett Corbett echoes Heino's words. Corbett said that even officers are taking extra precautions and social distancing on calls.

"If someone hands them their license they may not take it," explained Corbett. "They may just look at it while the motorist holds it and writes down that information and try and maintain more of a distance."

Whitefish Fire Chief Joe Page said that the virus is putting extra stress on his paramedics, adding that it's the idea of the unknown that's scary. "We're having to treat everybody like they're a possible COVID-19 patient."

Page explained how this slightly changes how paramedics respond to house calls.

"We're trying to limit the amount of people to make contact," said Chief Page. "We'll probably be sending one person into the house first To go ahead and put a mask on the patient and then the rest of the crew will come in."

To prevent the spread Page explained that paramedics will wear appropriate masks and gloves on calls.

He asks everyone to please disclose all symptoms when you call 911. This will ensure the patient's and first responders' safety.

Anyone with COVID-19 questions in Flathead County can contact (406) 751-8188 for more information.