Archive for category CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19)

Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19 (more)

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Chicago FD Paramedic Robert Truevillian, who joined the department in 2000, died from complications of the Covid-19. He was assigned to ambulance 71, which operates out of the firehouse at 10458 S. Hoxie Ave. in South Deering and is the third active CFD member to die from complications of the coronavirus.

On April 7, Mario Araujo became the first fire department member to die from the virus  and  firefighter Edward Singleton died on April 14

From CFD Media on Twitter:

Chicago FD Paramedic Robert Truevillian died from complications of Covid-19

Chicago FD Paramedic Robert Truevillian

Sadly we announce the death of CFD PIC Robert Truevillian due to COVID-19. He joined the CFD as a Paramedic in December of 2000. He was assigned to Amb 71, 10458 Hoxie. He becomes the third active duty CFD member to die of COVID-19 complications. God be with him. 

Mourning bunting and station flags at half mast at Engine 81 Amb 71. 105 and Hoxie for PIC Robert Truevillian who died from Covid-19.

Chicago fire station

Mourning bunting and station flags at half mast at Engine 81 Amb 71. 105 and Hoxie for PIC Robert Truevillian who died from Covid-19.

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Does Chicago have a shortage of ambulances? (more)

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On Tuesday night, a whistleblower exposed that a critical shortage of city ambulances has been made worse with the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighty ambulances serve Chicago every day. The paramedics often go from one violent crime scene to another.

“Our ambulances are out there,” said Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 spokesman Pat Quane. “They’re running nonstop, 24/7.”

“They’re doing trauma care – that’s battlefield care,” said Chicago Fire Department Paramedic Field Chief Pat Fitzmaurice. He said the department still does not have enough ambulances. 

For years investigations found chronic concerns with ambulance response times, which he said is a result of the ambulance shortage. One analysis of 700,000 medical 911 calls found in 19 percent of them, it took an ambulance more than seven minutes to get to the scene. Illinois Department of Public Health records show the Chicago Fire Department has committed to a response time goal of six minutes.

Five new ambulances arrived in August 2018 – more than a year Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “We know that we need more ambulances, and it’s my expectation, when we finalize the new fire contract, there will be more on ambulances coming online.”

The mayor made that comment in December of last year. But the number of new ambulances included in the firefighters’ new contract turned out to be zero.

In a statement, the fire department said they continue to ensure the ambulance fleet meets the needs of residents – which is why the placement of the most recently-added five ambulances was carefully chosen.

thanks Asher


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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19

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A Lake County business is creating custom testing and vaccination trailers for counties across the country. When COVID spiked in the U.S. the first time, they stopped making fire safety simulators and started building out mobile units for testing and eventually administering vaccines. A UV light system self-sanitizes the units.

“We’re seeing a collaboration of agencies from the public health agency, to the public safety agency, to emergency management, all working together, because no one had one solution for the problem. So, they’re able to work together and pool their resources to have an asset like the health incident trailer that allows them to then be able to do COVID testing and vaccination, use it as a point of distribution for PPE and other equipment, but also use it as an incident command down the road with health safety protocols,” said Christopher Gantz, JHB Group CEO.

Christopher Gantz is retired from the Skokie Fire Department. Eric Schildkraut is a firefighter in Elk Grove Township. Their companies work together to produce these trailers.

“Everything is technologically advanced. We can have them tune to a radio station, have a prerecorded setting so that way when people approach they’re not confused, they know where to go. We have security cameras so they can see what’s going on inside and out,” according to Eric Schildkraut, SAE Customs President.

The units run on solar power and cost between $75,000 and $100,000 dollars. One is already in use by the Catawba Indian Nation in South Carolina. Another 30 trailers in production right now will eventually go to counties across the U.S., including southern Illinois.

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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19

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Fire departments in central Illinois have created contingency plans in case firefighters are infected with coronavirus.

This week twelve Springfield firefighters contracted COVID-19, including Chief Allen Reyne. The outbreak within the department caused a total of 37 firefighters to isolate or quarantine. The outbreak was traced back to a house party. Reyne said, “Once you get two or three positives, now you have to look back through contact tracing, who worked with who, what calls they ran together. We’ve done that over the last few days. At one point, we were at 48. Pretty quickly, we got that number down to 37.” Despite the big setback the department is still running on a full staff. But with fewer firefighters available, they are racking up the overtime.

The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal shares daily stats on how COVID-19 has affected departments in Illinois. Champaign Fire Deputy Chief Tyler Funk said, “Since March 17th, there have been 2,039 firefighters that have been directly affected by this COVID-19 virus, and it effects 182 fire departments across the state. Those numbers include firefighters that have either been placed into quarantine or have tested positive.”

The pandemic has forced departments to prepare if exposure happens in their areas. In June, a Champaign firefighter had to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. Twelve other firefighters self-quarantined as well. The department has made adjustments to adapt to the health and safety risks since the pandemic started. Funk said, “We’re doing symptom based checks in the morning before they enter the workplace. We’re obviously wearing masks and staying socially distant within the department.”

Smaller villages, like Tolono, have a volunteer department. They have also made changes to operations. Assistant Chief Chris Humer said, “Not as many responders will go inside of a house, for your average medical call, it may just be one or two.” With nineteen firefighters on their force, they can not afford a significant loss in staff. “We have contingency plans set up with mutual aid departments, such as Savoy. We’re in constant contact with their administrative team as well, consistently talking about staffing levels,” said Humer.

Both large and small fire departments have similar plans for coronavirus outbreaks. If they can’t make up for a loss in staff with their own firefighters, they have agreements with nearby departments for mutual aid.

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Elgin Fire Department news

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Elgin firefighters went above and beyond to lift the spirits of a patient at a suburban rehabilitation hospital.

The only way for patients to visit with family members at that the Avondale Estates facility is to do so through a window, which makes Mary Moore’s third-floor room a big hurdle. She has been suffering from serious respiratory illness and transferred there  this week. She’s the matriarch of a large, tightly-knit family. Concerned relatives flew in from around the country to see her, except they weren’t really going to be able to see much looking up from the parking lot. When Elgin’s fire chief heard about it, he offered the solution; a ladder truck to bring them to the window.

The family kept the visit a secret, waiting to just appear in front of her window Thursday afternoon – and the reaction was worth it.

While her family was only here to visit Mary Moore, administrators said everybody in the facility got a boost at a time when many may need it the most.

“It’s not something we can do every day, take another ladder truck out of service,” Elgin Fire Chief Robb Cagann said. “But the circumstances around this particular situation gave us the opportunity to do it and we thought it warranted our ability to do that.”

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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19 (more)

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A somber ceremony honored Mario Araujo, the first Chicago firefighter EMT to die from the coronavirus. His colleagues saluted, his family was honored as they and mourn a loss due to COVID-19 that thousands of others have endured in our state.

Inside the fire academy, Araujo’s mother and family watched his badge, number 5186, be enshrined in the building itself, his sacrifice honored. And it’s not just at the training academy. Araujo is now also honored along the lakefront at the firefighter EMT memorial for all to see. His name is now etched in brick alongside his fallen brother and sister firefighters, now forever part of the city he loved.

From CFD media on Twitter:

Firefighter/EMT Mario Araujo was honored today at the Quinn Fire Academy. FF Araujo was the first member of CFD to succumb to the deadly coronavirus in April. Mario’s service and dedication will always be remembered.

brick to honor the memory of fallen Chicago Firefighter/EMT Mario Araujo

CFD Media photo

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Chicago Fire Department news

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The Chicago fire academy is closed until further notice after an apparent COVID-19 outbreak impacting both students and instructors. Officials said they are working to determine the source of the outbreak at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy, located at 558 W. De Koven Street in the South Loop. It’s not clear how long the building will be shut down. Officials have not said exactly how many people tested positive for COVID-19, but there are multiple cases. Those individuals are now in isolation and none require hospitalization. For now, the other trainees will participate in remote instruction. The facility will undergo a deep cleaning. 

Just last week, the department released a public service message urging people to take the virus seriously by wearing masks. Since the beginning of the pandemic, officials said there have been close to 300 cases of COVID-19 within the Chicago Fire Department. The virus took the lives of two department veterans, firefighters Mario Araujo and Edward Singleton. Both died in April.

Full statement from Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford:

“The health and safety of Chicago’s firefighters, paramedics and recruits are our utmost priority. That is why following multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy, the Department has temporarily suspended training at the facility while we work to thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire facility. Furthermore, the Department will clean all employees’ work areas and any vehicles and equipment used. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all facilities, the Department continues to work with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CPDH) to ensure social distancing and public health guidelines are strictly enforced and that all individuals abide by them. The current class of recruits will continue their training through remote learning. All individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 will remain in isolation while any close contacts will quarantine. No individuals who have tested positive have required hospitalization, and we will continue to monitor their condition. The Department will provide an update when training resumes in the facility.”

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Mundelein Fire Department news

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Jet Blue, New York public transit, and others are using UV Light technology to help sanitize their spaces. UV technology is now part of the plan to slow the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses at the Mundelein Fire Department. They’ve installed a UV air disinfectant device in their bunk room that uses a fan to shoot air through intense ultraviolet light.  “We can’t just spray chemicals in a room and leave for three hours. We have to be able to live in these spaces. So, the UV technology was essential,” said Mundelein Fire Department Deputy Chief Darren Brents.

According to the CDC, the light works on the molecular level. It can damage germ DNA, making the germ itself inert. UV technology isn’t a replacement for surface cleaning, but part of a multi-pronged approach to stop the spread of the virus.

From the Mundelein Fire Department Facebook page:

On Friday, Mark Rivera from ABC7 came to Mundelein to discuss the steps we have taken to protect our firefighters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our mitigation strategy involved equipping our personnel with the proper PPE, surface disinfection, and addressing air quality.

Air quality and the spread of viruses, mold, bacteria, and other pathogens in the air we breathe have not been publicly discussed. Recently, a chorus of scientists have concluded these and other viruses (influenzas, measles, etc.) are aerosolized and can remain in the air and travel significant distances. We proactively addressed this issue with the purchase of the Zone360 UV-C device to protect our first responders.

ABC7 reporter Mark Rivera graciously came to Mundelein to share our story with our community to help raise awareness.

tv interview in fire station

Mundelein FD photo

UV technology for prevention of the spread of germs in the fire house in bunk room

Mundelein FD photo

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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19

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U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to temporarily expand the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program to include firefighters already on payroll. Currently, the SAFER program has a requirement that funding be used only to hire new firefighters at the equivalent cost of a first-year firefighter, which normally would assist a station getting up to required staffing levels with fresh talent.

The members also noted that Congress has given FEMA the authority to waive certain FY19 SAFER requirements, as has memoranda provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

“As you consider additional waivers, we encourage you to waive the FY19 SAFER grant spending requirement on new firefighter hires only,” according to their letter.

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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19

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Cook County Board commissioners voted 9-7 with one member abstaining from a resolution which would direct the Cook County Department of Public Health to disclose locations of those testing positive for the coronavirus with 911 dispatchers in suburban Cook County every day for two months.

While the measure is only a recommendation, the Cook County Department of Public Health will follow the address-sharing practice because of the board’s instructions. That’s in spite of the public health co-administrator’s warning before the vote that the practice was inadequate and dangerous for both citizens and first responders emergency personnel.

The county board president said that it guaranteed the address-sharing plan would contribute to the systemic racism that black and Latino communities suffer. One commissioner said the resolution could backfire, as there are scores of residents who may have not sought testing because they are asymptomatic and that every individual that law enforcement comes into contact with should be treated as a COVID-19-positive case. Her position was supported by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The measure comes after a legal challenge to instate address-sharing was shot down. Earlier this month, a northwest suburban 911 dispatch system failed in its bid to force Cook County to share addresses of coronavirus patients on Friday after a judge denied its temporary restraining order. But the judge did grant the Village of Lincolnwood’s motion to intervene and set another hearing for early June.

The Illinois attorney general advised that address-sharing is permissible due to a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) exception, but he did not go so far as to recommend the practice.

Much of the Thursday board meeting’s public comment section was centered around the resolution, with suburban villages, police departments, and fire departments urging the need for address-sharing amid PPE shortages, and dozens of individuals and civil rights groups, including the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, saying it would lead to harm.

The board also took the opportunity to censure President Donald Trump’s administration for what they described as a failure to deliver enough PPE for first responders emergency personnel that they said led them to the controversial address-sharing proposal.

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