OnFocus – Currently, four members of the Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department are out on COVID leave, with one member scheduled to return on November 15.
“Possibly the first person affected the other two,” Acting Chief Pete Fletty told the Marshfield Police & Fire Commission at their Wednesday morning meeting. “We’re kind of trying to do our own contact tracing here. In addition, we have about 20 members quarantined per Wood County Health Department. Being First Responders, we can still work under quarantine as long as the employee doesn’t have symptoms. We’re still encouraging employees that have symptoms to stay home.”
Due to these COVID cases, the department implemented an Emergency Staffing Plan effective as of November 10.
Fletty told OnFocus that the plan is designed to help assure the department has staffing each day to meet the operational needs of the department and to assure the citizens and community are protected.
“We aren’t currently at critical staffing levels, but I wanted to put this plan in place now and be ahead of the game, rather than trying to play catch-up if some of our quarantined staff starts having symptoms associated with COVID-19,” he said.
The Emergency Staffing Plan serves as a guideline for Shift Commanders to follow in case there are a large number of firefighters who cannot work because of contracting Coronavirus.
“The plan includes instructions on a tiered call-in procedure, lifts the restrictions on maximum hours worked from 72 hours to 120 hours, gives the Shift Commander leeway to alter the duty-day should we have a lot of firefighters working multiple days in row, among other things,” explained Fletty.
The department continues to check temperatures daily, implement social distancing, and remain well stocked on PPE. That being said, the public is encouraged to do what they can to protect themselves and others.
“We will always be here to respond to emergencies. The best thing the community can do right now to help us stay safe is to follow Health Department Guidelines – wear your masks, socially distance from one another, and limit gatherings,” said Fletty. “Our ambulance crews have been transporting an increased number of COVID positive patients and/or people with symptoms associated with COVID, especially lately. This has coincided with the recent spike in cases in Central Wisconsin. Additionally, if possible, if you have COVID and are calling for an ambulance, let the dispatcher know so our crews can be sure to have the proper PPE donned upon arrival.”
Fletty said that everyone at the department has been wearing masks at all times while on duty – something he believes has helped reduce spread.
“We have had several firefighters test positive for COVID and have determined they were likely here just prior to having symptoms and were likely shedding the virus; yet, we haven’t seen a dramatic spread of the virus at the fire department even though our firefighters spend full 24 hour days with each other,” he said. “We believe this is largely due to all personnel being required to wear a mask while on duty. Wearing masks, along with social distancing, good hand-washing, and limiting our social gatherings are our best lines of defense against the spread of the virus.”
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