The Journal Gazette
Sunday, March 22, 2020 1:00 am

2 city firefighters in quarantine over COVID concerns

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Two Fort Wayne firefighters are in quarantine due to possible exposure to the coronavirus as the Fort Wayne Fire Department adjusts its response to emergency calls. 

The department has enough personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE, to last a month, even if the department sees a significant increase in calls, Adam O'Connor, deputy chief, said Saturday. 

As of Saturday evening, neither the Fort Wayne Police Department nor the Allen County Sheriff's Department had responded to inquiries about their COVID-19 policies.

However, Detective Sgt. Timothy Hughes, who oversees the homicide division, said his detectives wear masks and gloves when dealing with people who might be infected.

“So far we have enough,” Hughes said. Recently, the department has seen fewer calls because people are sequestering themselves at home, he added. 

One Fort Wayne firefighter was placed under quarantine by the Allen County Board of Health after it was determined he was exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 patient while working for a medical provider outside the Fort Wayne department, O'Connor said. 

The second firefighter went into self-quarantine after returning from England, O'Connor added. 

Response protocol has been adjusted to protect firefighters and EMS as much as possible. 

“Our firefighters conserve PPE by having the highest credentialed medical provider in the crew don PPE and then assess the patient. This is typically an advanced EMT or a paramedic. Once that assessment is completed, the other firefighters are only exposed if necessary,” O'Connor said. 

Within the fire department other steps are being taken. Battalion chiefs stay outside stations to deliver supplies and pick up paperwork, O'Connor said.

“My firefighters are professionals. They are trained when and how to wear PPE, and are raised in a culture of taking risk and sacrificing for the greater good without complaint. It is what sets us apart and we wouldn't have it any other way,” O'Connor said.

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