RANTOUL — PRO Ambulance personnel have responded to a “handful” of calls where the patients’ symptoms have mirrored those of COVID-19 in the past couple of weeks, Director Bob Holloway said, but to date none of those have tested positive for the virus.

Holloway said he doesn’t believe any of those calls came from the Rantoul area.

“So far we haven’t had any adverse impacts,” he said. “It’s been a lot of preparation. We’ve implemented a new screening protocol, and we’ve followed CDC and IDPH guidelines for protective equipment.”

When area residents call 9-1-1, METCAD personnel will ask screening questions to determine the caller’s symptoms. Holloway said many illnesses have the same symptoms as COVID-19.

“We will be doing those same kinds of screenings from a distance of about 6 feet or so to determine the need for additional personal protective equipment,” he said.

Holloway said people shouldn’t be fearful if they see ambulance personnel using the precautions.

PRO hasn’t experienced any increase in calls but is preparing for additional staffing in the event the call volume goes up, Holloway said.

People should call 9-1-1 if they have chest pain, difficulty breathing or fainting.

To avoid overwhelming the healthcare system, residents are asked not to visit emergency rooms if they are displaying mild symptoms.

“If they’re mildly ill, just self-isolate,” Holloway said.

People with questions about their symptoms or wanting other information may call the OSF hotline at 833-673-5669 or contact a virtual online assistant for education and prevention information at osfhealthcare.org. People can also text osf at 67634.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com