COVID-19 has presented new challenges for those of us in the fire service. If you’ve been in the service for several years, you know this isn’t the first time we have adapted the way we do our jobs in response to a health crisis. After 9/11, we faced anthrax scares. In the past decade, we’ve navigated H1N1 and Ebola, and we can navigate COVID-19, too.
Social-distancing rules, quarantine, and isolation mean we have to adjust the way we work and the way we train. Here are a few ideas from fire service teams across the country that you may consider implementing in your station.
Social distancing rules mean making adjustments to the way we conduct fire training at all levels. Here are a few suggestions to consider:
Completing firefighter courses online is another excellent alternative to traditional training courses. Whether you utilize YouTube videos, free online materials, or an accredited training platform, these resources can help you sharpen your skills and stay prepared to protect your community.
Online firefighter training through CareerCert means everyone on your team—leaders, personnel, instructors, DICOs, medical providers, drivers, etc.—has access to critical training, CEs, safety courses, and certifications. Not only can you refresh the basics, you can also take industry-leading new courses, track your team’s compliance, disseminate department-specific training, and easily report on all of your team training in one easy place.
Training with CareerCert also means your personnel can complete courses at their own pace and in the comfort and safety of their own home or at the station, limiting the risk of exposure and helping to keep your team safe.
Beyond social distancing, pandemic protocols can be put in place to help protect your team and ensure that we are prepared to continue to serve under these new circumstances.
A great place to start is making minor adjustments to operations. You may consider working with your reporting service to institute a practice of screening calls for COVID-19 symptoms, when appropriate, so that responders can be prepared and vigilant. Some teams have also chosen to send a smaller amount of personnel to assess each patient in a non-fire scenario to minimize exposure.
In accordance with guidelines from the CDC, all personnel should wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including:
In our stations, we must also be vigilant in our cleaning methods and hygiene habits. At least twice a day, there should be a thorough cleaning and spray down of surfaces, equipment, bunk rooms, and vehicles. Be sure to use approved cleaners that fight off viruses.