San Juan County first responders exposed to patient positive for coronavirus

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — San Juan County is urging the public to be honest with dispatchers about possible coronavirus symptoms after four county first responders were exposed to a patient who tested positive for COVID-19.

Two San Juan County Fire Department volunteer firefighters and two San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies were exposed on April 10 during a medical call with paramedics, according to a San Juan County press release and Spokesman Devin Neeley.

The first responders did not wear masks or eye protection based on the answers the patient provided dispatchers, as they had no reason to believe the patient was exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

Read more:New Mexico Republicans, Democrats spar on business restrictions amid coronavirus pandemic

“Our service operates with volunteer responders, we cannot afford to lose these responders for two weeks because they were unaware of the risk of infection and could not take appropriate precautions,” said San Juan County Fire Chief John Mohler in the press release.

The four were informed by the New Mexico Department of Health the patient was infected with COVID-19, according to the press release.

“It is important for citizens to notify us as soon as they can if they have tested, or believe they may be positive for COVID-19 when they call 9-1-1,” said Mohler. "We are still going to respond, it just changes how we respond to those incidents."

The incident prompted new changes for firefighters as they will wear surgical masks, eye protection and gloves on all medical calls.

The equipment will be upgraded if there are coronavirus concerns.

Actions have been taken to sanitize and clean vehicles and spaces the firefighters may have occupied.

Others are reading:San Juan Regional Medical Center to furlough some employees because of Coronavirus

First responders will be quarantined for 14 days or until tests are negative for the coronavirus.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: