By Kristina Rex

QUINCY (CBS) – From four o’clock in the morning, Transformative Healthcare EMTs are showing up to the Fallon EMS headquarters in Quincy to prepare for a day of COVID-19 testing. It’s not the job many of them signed up for, but it’s one that’s become incredibly important statewide.

“I’ll be honest, they’re amazing,” said Kevin Mont, the Director of Operations. “They’ve been outside in the cold and heat.”

The day starts by loading up an ambulance or van at headquarters with the essentials — masks, a cooler of water bottles, sterile gowns, gloves, and of course, testing kits. Then, crews head to a variety of locations: state free testing sites, nursing homes, private businesses, and more.

CHECK: Where To Find A Coronavirus Test In Massachusetts

If you’ve been tested at one of Massachusetts’ Stop the Spread free COVID-19 testing sites, there’s a chance you’ve been tested by an EMT working for Transformative Healthcare. The company hired more than 300 people in the spring to launch the testing initiative, and has conducted more than 500,000 tests statewide.

Stop the Spread free COVID-19 testing site in Chelsea (WBZ-TV)

“I think to our employees they’ve been excited that they’re playing a role in the public health system,” Kevin Mont explained.

Since Thanksgiving, testing is at an all-time high, Mont said. That’s likely, in part, due to the second surge of COVID-19 and people wanting to be safe, plus a push from local officials to get tested. Another reason for the increased numbers, Mont believes, is the change in the test itself.

“So at the very beginning, we had the ones that everybody did not want. They were painful, they went way up your nose,” he explained.

Now, a test lasts 10 seconds, and is just as accurate. An EMT asks you for your contact information, then produces a swab that’s about six inches long. They place the swab 1 centimeter into your nostril for 5 seconds, then repeat on the other side. The swab is then placed in a vial with a scan code on it that tracks back to your contact information, sent to the lab for processing, and you get your results in one to three days.

(WBZ-TV)

“I think the message is getting out that it’s widely available, a lot more comfortable,” Mont said. “I think people are more open to [the test] and less afraid of it.”

Transformative Healthcare is now having internal discussions about how to get involved in widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available to the general public.

They’re hoping to use lessons learned through widespread public free testing, and apply it to vaccine distribution.

Kristina Rex