First responder convention in Tampa turns attention to coronavirus


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – EMS Today, a network of first-responders from around the world, is currently holding its annual convention in Tampa.  

The thousands of emergency personnel plan to gather under one roof to discuss the latest products, services, and techniques related to their industry. But they’re also turning their attention to a national concern: the coronavirus.  

“This community understands it and we are not at all intimidated by it but we are certainly aware of it,” conference coordinator Bobby Halton said. “We thought about it and we aren’t that much all worried about it.” 

Halton, who is also an Oklahoma volunteer firefighter, says within the EMS community, they have lived and worked through MARs, SARs, the avian flu, and the swine flu. Therefore, they say, they’re ready to face the latest outbreak. 

“Awareness and knowledge are the tools that keep people from being frightful. When you are frightful, that is irrational. There is nothing to be fearful with coronavirus. If you get it and get treatments, our medical teams are second to none,” said Halton.  

Halton believes practicing regular handwashing and healthy hygiene habits will be beneficial in preventing the spread of disease. He also recommends staying home if you feel ill. 

“The old adage of ‘I come to work, I don’t care how sick I get,” good for you but that is not good for me. Stay home,” said Halton.  

According to EMS Today’s website, the conference held an Infectious Disease Workshop Tuesday morning. 

“What these men and women learn today, will directly impact all of their communities,” said Halton. “The public conception of coronavirus is that it something new and it is not. But we are learning more about it and doctors are working on a vaccine and they will get one soon. Everything is going to be okay.” 

The EMS Today 2020 conference runs until March 6. For more information, visit their website


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