ABILENE, Texas — Starting this week, the Abilene Fire Department will be utilizing a Virus Response Unit for calls involving flu-like symptoms or symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The unit will consist of two paramedics who are familiar with symptoms of COVID-19 and will help minimize possible exposure to personnel.

"We are sending one person in to deal with the patient, and kind of get a 6-foot assessment before more personnel is in that area," Abilene Fire Chief, Cande Flores, said.

The units will not have a fire engine or ladder, but they will be loaded with additional protective gear such as goggles, gloves and masks, Flores said.

According to the Abilene Fire Department, it will begin following a new protocol for COVID-19 which directly relates to emergency medical dispatch during a pandemic, epidemic or outbreak.

"We are hopeful and we are positive in our efforts and its business as usual at this point," Flores said.