Ebola panic in New York City has now reached linguistic levels.
The New York Post reports that to avoid citywide alarm, FDNY medics are now forbidden from saying the word “Ebola” over their radios. The new 911 code is “Fever/Travel,” to indicate that the sick individual has recently been to West Africa.
The dispatchers are taking this precaution because “civilian hobbyists” and members of the media listen to the emergency radio channels.
“We just wanna keep our cool, be professional and not jump to conclusions,” a firefighter at the firehouse on 8th Avenue at 48th St told the Observer, declining to supply his name because of department policy against speaking to the media. “It’s like the scene from Jaws– if you yell ‘fish,’ nobody moves. If you yell ‘shark,’ you’ve got a fire on the Fourth of July.”
City officials have also taken other, more active precautions to ensure New Yorkers are protected from Ebola.
FDNY medics have been given “Hi-Risk Kits” containing gowns, gloves and face masks, along with a memo detailing a 19-step process for putting on and taking off the protective gear.
Bellevue Hospital has 20 isolation rooms ready for Ebola patients, whose blood samples can be tested at the City Health Department lab across the street. The city also has 100,000 body bags at the ready.
Also last night, the Department of Education sent the city’s school principals a letter which said that any student who has traveled to West Africa should immediately be seen by the school nurse if they exhibit symptoms of Ebola.