YORK COUNTY, SC (YCSO NEWS) – Individuals who call 9-1-1 for assistance in York County will now be asked questions that will help first responders determine appropriate response measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is absolutely critical that the public be truthful and forthcoming when responding to these questions.
Telecommunication operators will ask callers the following questions:
1. Have you or anyone involved had a fever, a cough, OR trouble breathing within the last 14 days?
2. Have you or anyone involved had contact with a patient diagnosed with, or is under evaluation for (Covid-19) Coronavirus, in the last 14 days?
3. Have you or anyone involved traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days?
“If you call for help, we are coming. Nothing will stop York County deputies from responding to a call for assistance,” said Sheriff Kevin Tolson. “All we ask is for you to tell us how you’re feeling, good or bad, so we can prepare our deputies properly before they get to you.”
Sharing this information is especially important right now because this is likely the only information first responders will have when deciding whether or not to use extremely limited personal protective equipment when responding because state authorities have refused to share critical information with local first responders. Rather than follow the example of information sharing set by other states, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental (DHEC) refuses to tell law enforcement the location of individuals that have tested positive for COVID-19. DHEC has taken the position that sharing this location information with county authorities does not protect public health, but actually carries with it the danger of increasing risk to the public health. Should first responders and law enforcement follow the advice of DHEC and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) on every call, their scarce supply of PPE will quickly vanish.
“DHEC’s refusal to release this critical information to first responders is frustrating and baffling. It’s ironic to me that we are relying on the public to give us the information that DHEC already possesses,“ said Sheriff Tolson. “First responders need all available information so that they can better protect themselves and in turn, protect the communities that they serve. We are in a crisis - we all need to work together to battle this threat.”
In addition, members of the public must not lie about experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in order to attempt to avoid arrest. Feigning illness will only result in the unnecessary use of precious resources. Individuals who lie about having COVID-19 are subject to both state and federal charges.