An Everett Firefighter’s Perspective On Responding To Coronavirus Calls

March 21, 2020


Photo courtesy Everett Fire Department

The Everett Fire Department posted this on their Facebook page Saturday evening.

We know many readers don’t subscribe to that feed so when we come across something the department posts on social media we like to pass it along and this is both timely and informative.

Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak: A Firefighter’s Perspective by EFD Captain Jeff Pegrum.

I would like to help our community understand the steps first responders are taking to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

There are many steps we are taking at the fire station to protect ourselves. First, we are not allowing anyone to come into the station that does not need to be there. This includes friends, family, station tours, and chiefs. If a person stops at our station for help, we continue to assist them as we normally do, but we do not bring them inside. We are practicing social distancing at the station to minimize contact. We take our temperatures every day and are mandated to stay home if we are not feeling well at any level.

On an alarm (aka call), every patient we see we proactively consider them as a potentially infected person. We put on goggles instead of safety glasses, an N-95 mask (pictured here with interchangeable cartridges), and gloves. If we have any information that indicates there is a higher risk, we put on a gown. We also try to limit the number of personnel who go in and see the patient up close.

For example, if a call comes in as a paramedic response, we may send only one of the five responders inside to contact the patient and conduct an evaluation. At the same time, the others wait outside of the establishment. The primary responder will determine how many personnel are needed inside to assist. When possible, we will ask the patient if we can bring them outside to do our evaluation. To help prevent any further spread of the virus, we put a surgical mask on the patient when appropriate.

Our leadership continually evaluates and adjusts our response protocols and patient treatment. These updates are added to a “living” document that we reference to keep current on the latest changes. Currently, we are on version 17 of this document. As a Captain, my job is to make sure my crew is protected and to minimize the amount of close contact time we spend with a patient while continuing to provide proper care.

I ask you to understand that we are dealing with a situation that we have never dealt with before. I believe our leadership is doing a great job trying to keep us safe. One of their main goals is to make sure that we have enough protective equipment and healthy personnel available to keep responding to alarms.

What can you do? Wash your hands. A lot. Stay home. Call your health care provider if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, and only call 9-1-1 if your symptoms are emergent. The fire department does not test patients for the COVID-19 virus, which is done by equipped health care facilities. The only reason you should call 911 is if you’re having serious or life-threatening symptoms.

And, I’ll say this again, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and clean and sanitize common areas and surfaces. As we show up to work for you, we ask that you stay home to help us.

~ Captain Pegrum~

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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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