COVID-19 Update from Your Fire Department April 02, 2020
It has been just over a month since Oregon confirmed its first case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Coos Bay Fire Department continues to be very active in the planning and response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Staff members from Coos Bay Fire Department and many other local response partners have been meeting regularly since early February planning and preparing. This planning includes weekly meetings with Coos Health and Wellness, representatives from local hospitals, clinics, care facilities, and other first responders from around Coos County.
Based on guidance and discussion during these meetings, the Coos Bay Fire Department has made some changes to our daily operations. All 9-1-1 dispatchers are asking additional questions to help our responding crews determine the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to wear. Once on the scene, we are limiting the number of people near the patient until it is determined that there is low COVID risk or that a higher level of PPE is required. This is coordinated with Bay Cities Ambulance and, in instances when they arrive first, our personnel may remain outside until assistance is needed.
To ensure the safety of staff and citizens Coos Bay Fire Department has also taken extra steps to ensure all of our staff are fit for duty. Staff members are performing twice daily self-evaluations as outlined by CDC guidelines. These evaluations consist of assessing for cough, congestion, fever, and other signs of respiratory illness. Although there are many other respiratory illnesses besides COVID-19, we want to make sure that anyone that is ill is not responding to calls. These self-evaluations have identified a fever and cough in one of our members who has been removed from work until he is symptom-free. Through collaboration with Coos Health and Wellness, this member is also being tested for COVID-19 as a high-risk worker. If the test is positive this member will be restricted from work until cleared by the local health department.
There have been many stories on social media and from different media outlets that have discussed the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields. Currently, Coos Bay Fire Department has an adequate supply and by limiting the number of people with close contact with patients, we are extending how long our supply will last.
As we transition from the initial response to a sustained response, we encourage everyone to stay vigilant in the fight on COVID-19; Stay home, stay safe.