National News

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Union Head: FDNY to enact ‘doomsday scenario’ for medically-trained firefighters to assist EMS with coronavirus 911 calls

Firefighters trained as paramedics and EMTs will assist the FDNY’s overloaded medical services bureau as part of a “doomsday scenario” to deal with the surging coronavirus pandemic, the Daily News has learned. Roughly 209 FDNY firefighters with emergency medical technician licenses have been ordered to man rapid response vehicles, according to a six-minute video released Tuesday night by United Firefighters’ Association head Gerard Fitzgerald. They’re being asked to respond to some of the estimated 6,000 calls flooding the department’s Emergency Medical Service crews each day and evaluate patients for possible coronavirus infection or other medical problems, Fitzgerald said. An additional 63 firefighters with paramedic certifications are also on tap to assist EMS on medical calls, the union leader said.
New York Daily News

Detroit will be first city to use new 15-minute COVID-19 tests today

The city of Detroit will be the first to have specific test kits that could have results in minutes. Normally, the swab tests take days to yield results. Testing with these kits begin today but only for Detroit police, first responders and bus drivers. Instead of waiting days to get results to find out if you have the coronavirus — you get results in 15 minutes. And the interesting thing about these test kits is that they can show positive results even before someone shows symptoms. “Detroit will be the first city in the country to use the 15 minute testing," said Mayor Mike Duggan. Waiting for any health test result can be nerve-wrecking, but when it comes to coronavirus — knowing if you’re infected can help save lives while protecting others.
WXYZ-TV ABC 7 Detroit

Fire crews in California launch mobile health support to help screen for COVID-19

Sacramento-area fire crews and public health officials are launching a new initiative to provide mobile health support to the community. “We’re essentially bridging the gap between emergency services and the hospital,” Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Capt. Scott Perryman told FOX40. Think of it as an urgent care center on wheels. “They’ll let us know is it something simple like a strep throat or is it seasonal allergies or is it something more significant,” said Perryman. The initiative is driven by an effort to screen possible COVID-19 cases among people who may not be able to travel to be tested. “We have the ability swab and test and get it to the laboratory right then and there,” explained Perryman. Typical ambulances provide immediate lifesaving care and take people to the hospital, but the teams in these trucks are different.
KTXL-TV FOX 40 Sacramento

South Carolina creating COVID-19 database for first responders

The South Carolina Department of Health is creating a database that will give first responders more information about the places and people they’re responding to during the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came on Tuesday during a news conference with Dr. Linda Bell, DHEC’s Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. “We are setting up a system through a secure database to provide to EMS dispatchers information that they need to make decisions about response,” Bell said. Department of health officials said they’re hoping to have the system up and running early next week. The details of this system are limited, but it did come after the South Carolina Association of Counties wrote a letter last week to Governor Henry McMaster.
WMBF-TV NBC 32 Myrtle Beach

First responders urge Minnesota lawmakers to ease path to workers’ compensation for those with COVID-19

First responders and emergency workers are urging Minnesota lawmakers to ease their ability to obtain workers’ compensation should they contract COVID-19. A bill before lawmakers would encompass firefighters, paramedics, police, nurses, doctors and people providing child care to emergency responders, among several others whose jobs put them at particular risk of contracting the disease that had infected 689 and killed 17 Minnesotans as of Wednesday. “It’s very important, because first responders, nurses, other folks that we have included in this bill, we are going to be working directly with populations that are susceptible to COVID-19, or, already have COVID-19,” said St. Paul fire Capt. Chris Parsons, who spearheaded the effort. “We are going to be put at a greater risk than the general public [for] contracting this illness.”
Star Tribune

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Colorado fire department says it’s developed a way to sterilize, reuse N95 masks amid shortage

VIDEO: N95 masks are ideally single-use, which contributes to the shortage felt by first responders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That's why one southern Colorado fire department sought out a way to extend the life of each mask. South Fork Fire Rescue in the San Luis Valley says it's developed a way to safely reuse a mask up to 10 times. "This UVC Chamber allows the use of an N95 to be extended to 10 times vs a single-use," said Captain Tyler Schmidt with SFFR in a Facebook post. "It doesn't cure the current shortage being experienced during the COVID-19 Pandemic, but it will help us stretch our masks a little longer until the factories can keep up with demand." Schmidt posted a video explaining how to build the UV light chamber and the department's calculations.
KRDO-TV ABC 13 Colorado Springs

Ambulances from across U.S. to aid heavily-burdened FDNY EMS system amid coronavirus crisis

A partnership between FEMA and New York City is aiming to bring aid to an overburdened FDNY EMS system that has received an “unprecedented” influx of calls due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Mayor Bill de Blasio, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell and FEMA Region II Administrator Tom Van Essen announced the partnership, which will bring more than 250 ambulances and approximately 500 more EMTs to the city. “When I heard that this was actually a real thing, that people would come from around the country and help us out with ambulances, I almost didn’t believe it — but, seeing is believing” said Nigro. “All I can say is thank you so much for the people of the city of New York,” said Nigro, at Fort Totten in Queens — where EMTs from across the U.S. were gathered on Tuesday.

Police, fire departments in Massachusetts town employ new weapon against spread of coronavirus

The police and fire departments have gone full Star Wars on battling the coronavirus. Cops and firefighters are using electrostatic guns to disinfect cruisers, cells, fire apparatus and equipment. “It looks like something out of Star Wars,” Police Chief Brian Clark said Tuesday, adding that the gun quickly and evenly coats a surface with a chlorine solution. The applicator gives a negative charge to the disinfecting solution as it exits the nozzle. It allows the sanitizer to wrap around and evenly coat all types of surfaces for a better cleaning job, Clark said. In addition, the surfaces that are already covered repel the spray, making the method extremely efficient. “It cleans more. It’s more efficient and you don’t have to touch the surface,” Clark said.
The Sun Chronicle

Michigan lawmaker floats income tax holiday for first responders, hospital workers

As lawmakers prepare a fourth round of stimulus relief in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a Michigan lawmaker plans to introduce a bill this week calling for a federal income tax holiday for doctors, nurses and first responders. Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Zeeland Republican, said the proposed tax holiday for three months is modeled after how the federal government excludes income taxes from members of the military serving on the front lines in combat zones. It's targeted at first responders like police, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians. The holiday also would cover hospital staffers such as nurses, doctors, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners who work in a county with at least one case of COVID-19 or are providing direct services to COVID patients in a hospital. "If we’re viewing this as sort of a war-like footing, then let’s try to treat it that way," Huizenga said.
The Detroit News

1st responders line up outside California hospital to honor doctors, nurses, staff amid coronavirus outbreak

VIDEO: A group of first responders in Palmdale expressed their appreciation to those on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic Monday night. The salute to doctors, nurses and medical staff at Palmdale Regional Medical Center took place around 7:30 p.m., coinciding with the setting sun, according to a post on the Palmdale sheriff’s staton’s Facebook page. Sheriff’s deputies, as well as personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and California Highway Patrol, took part in the salute. They parked their patrol cars and fire engines outside the hospital, located at 38600 Medical Center Drive, then turned their emergency lights on. Numerous first responder vehicles were lined up at the curb outside the facility, and many had their sirens turned on, video of the demonstration showed. The bright, flashing lights, as well as the many sirens blaring, caught the attention of the emergency room staff.
KTLA-TV WB 5 Los Angeles

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