Lafayette firefighters take extra precaution on front lines of Covid 19

Posted at 6:23 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 08:36:28-04

Firefighters are on the front lines of this pandemic, responding to 911 calls and continuing to care for public like always .

Their jobs aren't looking quite the same as always though, and now taking care of all of us means taking care of themselves too.

"The fire department responds to EMS calls which is about 45 percent of what we do," says Lafayette Fire Department Public Information Officer Alton Trahan.

Lately that means checking on people who could be infected with COVID-19.

"As a captain we're concerned about our crew just as well as the patient," says Captain Thomas Heidbrink. "So the crews are becoming more conscious on every aspect, everything they touch, in the station, on the truck and at medical calls."

This means wiping down everything from the inside of trucks to light switches to bags they take in and out of the station and all of the shared equipment any time it has been touched. They also wear personal protective gear on EMS calls.

"They have the gloves, mask perhaps, eye protection just to go in and make sure there's no exposure," says Trahan. Plus a new protocol will limit the number of firefighters actually coming in contact with a sick person.

"One person is actually going to go in and assess the breathing problem in the home," says Trahan.

"We'll try to make contact at the door and if we can make contact at the door," adds Heidbrink. He says that you can be helpful in protecting the firefighters from symptoms by fully explaining your situation to 911 dispatchers if you find yourself on the phone with them.

"Give them the information. the more information they have the better protected the responders are and we need as many of them as we can. the more that get infected the less we're going to have to help everybody as this pandemic runs around."