Trumbull officials: Help is a call away

TRUMBULL — Town officials had a simple message on a community support video conference Thursday — you’re not alone, and help is just a phone call away.

Counseling staff from the Mary J. Sherlach Center and EMS Director Leigh Goodman hosted the conference, where about a dozen residents logged on to ask questions or just hear about the town’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This was the first of proposed weekly conferences that will be held Thursdays at 11 a.m. The online meetings are hosted through Zoom, and residents can log on here. The meeting ID is 690 701 855 and the password is 101853. For those wishing to call in, the number is 1-929-205-6099.

Robin Bieber, a counselor, said the center’s staff was still available, just not in person.

“We are taking appointments by phone, leave a message and a counselor will get back to you,” she said. In addition, the center’s answering service will respond to those having an emotional crisis any time, she said.

Goodman said EMS had prepared and trained for a possible pandemic, and was ready to handle the uptick in infections.

“We are very much prepared for this,” she said. “On a smaller scale, this is what we do every day because we do go into the community where people can have communicable diseases.”

What EMS is doing differently now is taking the normal precautions to their logical extension, Goodman said.

“During this pandemic, we are taking extreme caution, so you are seeing EMTs wearing masks, gloves and goggles,” she said.

Goodman also reassured residents that Trumbull had sufficient resources to fight the virus.

“The short answer is, yes we have enough,” she said. “We have been working on this since early January, when it became clear what was coming. We are most certainly stocked and ready to assist the community. No one will be denied our help.”

As the panel fielded questions from the public, it became clear to listeners that the primary concern was the isolation people are experiencing as a result of school and business closings, and the repeated urging to stay home.

Bieber, in response to a question about talking to children about coronavirus, said it was important to be honest without sounding excessively alarmed.

“For children and teens, tell them something like, ‘There is this disease, and we as a family need to take precautions,’” she said. “Be honest and reasurring. Everybody is in this together. This is a temporary situation, and we are working as a family and a community to get through it.”

For teens, explanations can be a little more challenging, Bieber said. From what she has seen, teens are having a tougher time than younger children, she said.

“The stay-in-place rules are frustrating for them and for their parents,” she said. “But parents need to hold their ground. Key into their sense of empathy, that even if they and their friends feel fine, by taking their car and going out they can be putting others at risk.”

Goodman, in response to a prevention question, said that wearing a mask in public was probably not very effective. EMS personnel train on the proper way to wear a mask, and even donning or removing the mask incorrectly can negate its effectiveness, she said.

“If you’re not following the proper steps, you’re just wasting the equipment,” she said. “You’re better off just sanitizing your hands. I keep sanitizing wipes in my car and I wipe my hands when I get out of my car, then throw the wipe away. Then when I get back in my car, I sanitize.”

Finally, Goodman said, residents can acknowledge that it is OK to feel stress. She recounted a personal story from Wednesday evening, when she informed others she made the decision to take a night off.

“My buttons were getting pushed, and little things were really bothering me,” she said. “That, for me, is a warning sign.”

Goodman said she went home, had dinner and played some games with her family.

“We had one rule: We didn’t talk about coronavirus,” she said.