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First responders are taking extra precautions to protect against coronavirus

Posted at 8:38 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 23:31:01-04

GAINES TOWNSHIP, MICH. — During the coronavirus pandemic, people are being asked to keep their distance from others, but some, like first responders, don’t have that same luxury.

They are face-to-face helping people every day and now first responders are taking extra precautions to make sure they are healthy enough to continue answering calls.

“Right now our efforts have been really around preparing to have all the necessary equipment to make sure that we are very aware of the state, the CDC and the county protocols to how we respond to these calls, because some of those things have changed as recently as the past couple days,” Dutton and Cutlerville Fire Chief Paul Sheely said.

Sheely says they are relying on dispatchers to let them know if callers have any COVID-19 symptoms.

“When we encounter a patient like that, we are going to confirm that diagnosis, and put a mask on that patient as well,” Sheely added.

Firefighters will have ready kits in all of their trucks, which includes an N-95 mask, gloves, a mask for the patient, a gown, and a contaminated waste bag.

They have not encountered a patient with those symptoms yet, but Sheely say they are using an abundance of caution to keep their firefighters safe.

“I think the quarantine requirements that would be placed on firefighters if we knew they had an exposure and the impact of that on our staffing and ability to find and respond to future calls, is something we would be concerned about, so we are trying to do our due diligence to make sure we are very, very careful about that,” he explained.

“We want to be available to people that need help, that’s the goal,” he added.

Sheely says their department has also had to stop doing some of their other community work and closed off their station, to limit interaction between the firefighters and general public.