First responders fighting the flu - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

First responders fighting the flu

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MADISON (WKOW) - The national flu epidemic is prompting first responders to take precautions to keep them safe from the flu. 

The nationwide flu outbreak is showing no sign of easing up as four more deaths have been reported in the past few days, including three children. The epidemic is so bad, in fact, it's prompted a local fire department to take safety measures to keep the virus from spreading to its fire fighters. 

"The flu is definitely something that we've seen a spike this winter, for sure. The flu and flu-like symptoms have been on the rise," says Lt. Matthew Mialik, who's been with the City of Madison Fire Dept. for 14 years. The number of calls his station has received related to the flu this year is unprecedented. 

"We're all concerned about getting sick, catching the flu virus, or bringing it into our families," Mialik says. 

Just the fear of catching the flu is enough for the fire department to implement new protocols. 

"If we're getting a 9-1-1 call from somebody who's suffering from flu-like symptoms, or any kind of communicable type disease, that information is generally provided to the dispatch center," explains the lieutenant. If there's a risk of getting the flu at a rescue location, Mialick says that first responders are reminded to stay safe. 

According to Mialick, "We might want to wear a mask, we might want to make sure that we have our gloves on, or when we get done servicing a patient that we may want to take extra time to spray down our boots or equipment that we used inside the house." 

Fire department officials believe that it's important to keep their fire fighters safe from the flu. 

"If we get sick or injured, we're not able to help somebody who needs to be helped, who is also sick or injured. So for us, the importance is, of course, to keep ourselves healthy so that we're able to help the public when we're needed." 

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