Keeping people safe is part of the job for first responders, but when it comes to protecting themselves during COVID that can be a battle.
“These are some unprecedented times. In November we noticed an uptick in cases here,” said Brian Evans, deputy fire chief in High Point.
Emergency service workers and other first responders will have a new resource monitoring COVID-19. On the Office of State Fire Marshal’s website, a survey will allow responders to report quarantines and positive COVID cases.
“It’s another tool in the toolbox so to speak so any little bit that it can do to help the country to move forward is great,” Evans said.
Lexington Fire Chief Paul Jarrett worries about his team’s health every time they are forced to go out on a call. Since March, his department has seen fewer than 20 positive cases.
“Our fire department is one big family unit. They are having to learn to work as individuals and live in the station and that’s difficult,” Jarrett said.
Reducing exposure is one of the practices firefighters are taking at the station, but with the COVID registry, Jarrett believes it can protect his workers even better and at the same time give state officials a better understanding of what’s going on in communities.
“We all know that it’s taken its toll on the service but nobody knows for sure, so this will give the numbers to validate,” Jarrett said.
The State Fire Marshal Office will also open up a cancer registry to show how different types of cancer are affecting first responders.