Paramedics with the McKinney Fire Department have been preparing for potential coronavirus outbreaks for weeks.
Now, the training is being put to use.
Monday, members of the department's Community Health Program were tapped by the state to test more than 200 people at three senior facilities in McKinney.
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“It’s not really something that we have done in the past and it takes a special person to go in there and do this type of testing and we are really glad that we are able to do it,” said Charlie Skaggs, EMS Chief for the McKinney Fire Department.
Members of the Community Health Program are now part of an emergency medical task force activated by the state.
This week, Chief Skaggs said three members volunteered to perform testing at the facilities: Grand Brook Memory Care of McKinney, McKinney Healthcare and Rehabilitation, and Oxford Grand Assisted Living and Memory Care.
Two residents of Grand Brook in their 80’s died from COVID-19 complications late last week, according to county health officials.
The facility said 21 residents and eight staff have tested positive for the virus. Forty more tests were performed Tuesday.
Nearby, at McKinney Healthcare and Rehabilitation, the number of positive cases is unclear. But fire officials said 95 staff members were tested Monday.
At Oxford Grand Assisted Living and Memory Care, more than 100 residents and staff were tested Monday, according to fire officials. It comes a month after the facility reported its first of 11 deaths.
Betty Sullivan, 87, is a resident currently hospitalized with the virus.
“My biggest concerns were the ppl that are left behind there. How are you going to protect the people that are left behind?” said Sullivan’s son Kerry Sullivan.
Oxford Grand said it's requested more testing from the state for weeks.
It was finally approved Monday, in part, because of help from the McKinney Fire Department, members of which will remain deployed for the next two weeks, Chief Skaggs said.
“They don't go home at night. They get put in a hotel. They stay there and they’re basically on call until the state tells them to go to the next facility,” Chief Skaggs said.
It's not clear if there is a connection between those three facilities.
Test results are expected in the next couple of days.