April 9, 2020
Richmond Fire Department takes the threat posed by the novel strain of coronavirus and the disease process it causes, now referred to as COVID-19, with the utmost seriousness. It is the standard operating practice of this department to ensure the ongoing health and safety of all our personnel and their families. To that end, we acknowledge and accept our responsibility as the front-line responders in times of crisis. The mission of the Richmond Fire Department remains unchanged; we will protect the lives and property of the people of Richmond from fires, natural disasters, and hazardous materials incidents and save lives by providing emergency medical services.
RFD has maintained a heightened awareness of the events that have unfolded starting with the Wuhan Province of China throughout December of 2019. We began actively monitoring the domestic situation on January 20, 2020, when the first case was confirmed in Washington State. In February, we began securing, inventorying, and increasing our supply of personal protective equipment. At that time, some items were already in high demand and short supply from our typical supplier. We immediately began sourcing PPE through alternative methods and are currently adequately equipped for daily operations.
On February 27, a memo went out to our personnel detailing the emerging threat and our initial plan for addressing the situation. On March 11, all personnel began twice daily screening for respiratory symptoms and fever. On March 13, all stations began restricting public access, social distancing policies were enacted, and heightened awareness on emergency runs was instituted. These three memos became the foundation for what is now known as the Richmond Fire Department COVID-19 Response Plan. This document has changed daily, and in some cases hourly, as the pandemic has continued to evolve. All processes and procedures related to COVID-19 are outlined in this document, which is made available to all personnel at all times. A conference call outlining updates is held on nearly a daily basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published guidelines for healthcare personnel that have rapidly changed throughout this crisis. These guidelines have, from the beginning and continually as we move forward, defined our department’s response plan.
To clarify the terminology used during this pandemic, the following definitions are in place:
Testing for COVID-19 is now mandatory and provided for our members required to quarantine. Additionally, the following processes and procedures are in place:
As we navigate through this pandemic it is inevitable that some 1st Responders on the front lines are going to be affected. While we are tracking prehospital encounters and working closely with Reid Health to monitor suspected exposures, it is impossible to determine the actual source of infection. We will provide daily updates on the number of department personnel affected by COVID-19. This information is also being provided to the Wayne County Health Department and they will proceed with their processes accordingly.
These are indeed unique and concerning times. Rest assured, every precaution is being taken to ensure the health and safety of Richmond Fire Department personnel and their families. We appreciate the support of the community as we strive to fulfill our mission daily. Please, help our country by practicing social distancing and, above all else, don’t forget to wash your hands!
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