This is Acting Fire Chief Paul Carlyle with Benton County Fire District 4. We understand there is significant concern about the coronavirus, also known as “COVID-19.” First, I want to reassure you that we have been responding to infectious diseases for a long time. This is not new to us. We have trained for pandemics, and we are ready to help you or a family member if you need us.
It’s important that we work together to prevent the spread of this virus. Here are some things you can do to help during this time:
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Practice “social distancing” (i.e. avoid public gatherings of more than 10 people). If you must go out, keep 6-feet between you and other people.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
· Stay home when you are sick, and isolate yourself from others and pets in your household.
· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
· If symptoms are mild, treat them with over the counter medication and contact your health care provider by phone. Only go to the doctor’s office, hospital or emergency room if advised to do so by a health care practitioner.
· Please keep 911 for emergencies only. Our first responders are unable to test people for COVID-19. Only your doctor or a hospital can determine if your symptoms indicate a need for testing.
· If your health care provider instructs you to call 911, please be sure to tell them if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Here’s what we are doing to keep you and our first responders safe. Our facilities are closed to the public and our administrative staff is working from home. (But we are still responding to 911 calls!) We have cancelled all station community meetings, station tours, and attendance at community events by first responders until further notice.
If you do come to the station, we will come outside and ask how we can help while maintaining 6-feet between us. Please understand that we do not have masks, gloves, or other supplies to distribute to the public. We need to conserve these resources so our first responders remain equipped for an extended period of time.
When we respond to a medical call, we may show up with a gown, mask, eye protection, and gloves. Don’t be concerned. This is to protect you and first responders from spreading the virus. We also limit the number of personnel entering the residence, and stage additional responders just outside, ready to assist if they are needed. We may place a mask on a patient to prevent any droplet transmission.
We actively monitor coronavirus information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washington State Department of Health. DOH has a call center to address questions from the public about coronavirus and how it spreads at 1-800-525-0127.
We appreciate your support and the trust you place in us. We are fighting this thing. We will beat it, and appreciate your help to do this.