Sheriff’s Office will now limit in-person responses to certain emergency calls

Coronavirus

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It’s the increasing numbers that are putting a strain on hospitals, but the strain also is felt by first responders who must take drastic measures to ensure safety and that there will be someone available to respond to life-threatening emergencies.

It is cause for concern, the idea that law enforcement and emergency services may now have to choose which calls will get a response. The temporary measure hopes to alleviate some of the strain.

“We saw this coming,” said Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

The Sheriff’s Office is the second agency in Kern County to limit in-person responses due to the current spread of COVID-19. KCSO follows Delano Police who announced the same practice last week.

“That is why we have been preparing our response,” said Youngblood. “The deputies are still going to respond, they will take information over the phone, if they don’t have to contact you personally, they won’t contact you, we don’t want to infect you and we don’t want you to infect us.”

Youngblood mentioned an estimated 50 deputies have tested positive within the department.

“If I lose 50 patrol deputies, we won’t have anyone to respond,” said Youngblood. “So this is necessary for us to do this so that if you call 911 we have somebody that can respond.”

Kern County Department of Public Health says emergency services are also feeling the strain.

In the latest COVID-19 county-wide update they mention: “High volumes of 911 calls are taxing our entire emergency response system. We urge our residents to use the emergency system responsibly and call 911 only in a true emergency such as a heart attack, stroke or other serious health condition.”

17 News reached out to Bakersfield police who reassured they are not feeling the strain.

In a written statement they said: “BPD is not limiting the types of calls we are receiving. We are not currently experiencing a staff shortage due to officers contracting COVID.” BPD did not have an exact figure available as to how many of its officers have tested positive.

“I believe we are getting close to the end,” said Youngblood. “This virus is less lethal. It is easily transmittable but if you look at the history of pandemics this is the way we are going.”

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