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By Steve Abbott
North County Fire Protection District 

Fire Chief shares concerns

 

Last updated 4/3/2020 at 3:52am



Like most people, the North County Fire Protection District are concerned about what challenges await us during this COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time cautiously optimistic.

While the district was among the first within the regional fire service community to be directly impacted, we are also among the furthest along in adjusting our operations accordingly.

Many of our staff are heavily engaged at the regional level to provide guidance to others on how to best address these challenges, from alterations in our dispatch, response and treatment guidelines.

You may notice our personnel will be dressed differently and handling calls differently; this adjustment is to ensure everyone’s safety. Because this situation is so dynamic and largely unprecedented, we continue to develop plans for a variety of contingencies, which may warrant future changes.

What we do know is that the “stay at home” and “social distancing” orders have been shown to be effective in curtailing the spread of disease. We need look no further than the “tale of two cities” during the Spanish Flu pandemic a century ago, with two major metropolitan cities – Philadelphia and St. Louis – responding very differently to the same pandemic.

Philadelphia largely delayed such public health orders, whereas St. Louis aggressively instituted them. Not surprisingly, St. Louis experienced a far more favorable outcome.

We implore our community to be like St. Louis, so that we too can “flatten the curve.” The collective hope is that the sooner we can slow the spread, the sooner we can return to life as normal.

In the interim, I would challenge us to think of ways that we can continue to adapt our daily lives so that we can continue to support our community, local businesses and nonprofits.

It means persistence and patience on all our parts. As North County Fire has long been an advocate of emergency preparedness, we might suggest that you use this time to better prepare yourselves not only for this crisis, but the coming fire season that is only months away.

Chances are, many of us have dusted off our emergency storage and disaster supplies; if not, now would be a good time to do so, as this pandemic can be expected to occur in waves that could extend into the new year.

We encourage you to visit https://www.ReadySanDiego.org for more information on how to develop a comprehensive emergency plan, and follow through. To put it in perspective, our personnel must keep our families fully prepared at all times, as we can often be gone for weeks at a time during fire season.

Literature from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both indicate that for many, COVID symptoms are mild. However, for those with chronic health ailments, the illness may be more serious.

Please know that if you have mild symptoms, you will be encouraged to stay home and treat yourself with cough suppressants and expectorants, fever reducing medications, rest and fluids.

We are being advised that hospitals will only test patients for COVID that have symptoms significant enough to warrant hospitalization, such as shortness of breath, high fever, etc.

Countywide, emergency response agencies have actually seen a 10% reduction in call volume because of the coronavirus. If your symptoms are mild, we highly encourage you to seek care with your primary care provider, or if you do not have one, a local urgent care or clinic.

Naturally, if you or a family member are experiencing more significant symptoms, call 911.

 

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