Working With and Around COVID-19

It’s definitely a new world with a global pandemic. First off a huge salute to the first responders, healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and other folks that keep things moving: delivery, grocery, utility, etc.

Like all first responders we have been charged with performing our duties in the midst of this pandemic. To help others we need to be safe ourselves. Over the past month or so I’m sure there has been a scramble for updating or writing policies and procedures on how to respond, a reminder of hazmat decontamination practices and a scramble to simply attain appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Coming from a rural volunteer fire department here is what we have done in terms of policy.

Call Response

  1. One (or two) members (if healthy and logged temperature/symptoms) respond in department apparatus (E1, S1, T1)
  2. Don N95 mask and rubber gloves. Once this is done do not touch your eyes or nose
  3. Responses in POV (document time, date, temperature and symptoms)
  4. On scene, don full PPE (Gear sequence: Nomex hood, Boots, Pants, Coat, SCBA airpack, SCBA mask, Nomex hood in place (no visible skin), Helmet, Gloves, Open air cylinder, Snap respirator, Breathe air, Perform 360° evaluation of scene, Report to dispatch and responding units, Respond appropriately per SOGs/SOPs

Completed Call

  1. On scene, perform decontamination on full SCBA personnel
    • Spray down with water (forestry hose)
    • Scrub individual with Dawn dish soap and scrub brush
    • Rinse individual with water
  2. At hall, perform decontamination on full SCBA personnel
    • Remove handheld radios and set aside for decontamination
    • Spray down individual (still in full PPE) with water (forestry hose)
    • Scrub individual with Dawn dish soap and scrub brush
    • Rinse individual with water
    • Remove gear and scrub again with Dawn dish soap with scrub brush
    • Rinse gear with water
    • Doff PPE in reverse sequence
    • Hang to dry
  3. At hall, perform decontamination of apparatus, tools and equipment
    • Wipe all apparatus door and panel handles, inside cab, mounted radio, etc. with alcohol (same as radios) wipes
  4. Properly remove N95 masks and rubber gloves
  5. Place all in plastic bag, tie shut and put in trash container in bay

This is a bit abbreviated and we also included a Call Response Log. Both can be viewed here. Also, feel free to use these or any portion of them for your department.

Here are just a few of my favorite illustrations that I’ve come across online. Stop, and thank these essential personnel when you have the chance. A simple “thank you, we appreciate you” will do over social media too.