On Wednesday, March 11, six Keizer Fire District personnel (five paramedics and one volunteer) were self-quarantining at their homes after caring for and transporting a patient that later tested positive for COVID-19.
The plan was to originally have to have the group remain at home for 14 days on the advice of the Marion County health department. But as of Friday, March 13, four of the six were able to end their quarantine due to the fact that they did not have any direct contact with the individual according to KFD deputy fire marshal Ann-Marie Storms.
The two employees that are still quarantined are the two members of the ambulance crew that responded to the call, which happened on Thursday, March 5. However, neither them are showing symptoms.
KFD has 28 first responders on staff, nine of which are all on duty during a shift, so having five paramedics on leave was a hit to the day-to-day operations. However, Storms said that the loss of employees is similar to what happens when the district gets hit with a sickness, or is responding to a large fire in the summer.
“The staff numbers didn’t change, we just had some people working overtime,” Storms said. “We’ll be covered, we just might need to work a lot more.”
However, if the department sees more patients that are infected with the COVID-19 virus, two-week quarantines may not be a viable option.
“We can’t quarantine our entire fire service,” Storms said.
Storms acknowledged that the district is doing everything in their power to prevent the spread of illness, including drastic deep cleaning of all medical equipment.
“It’s always super clean, we just took it to new levels,” Storms said.
The fire station also currently closed to the public until further notice.
Storms implores the community to use social spacing — maintaining a distance of three feet between people — and extensive hand washing.
“I know I sound like a broken record, but please people, wash your hands frequently. It’s so important,” Storms said.