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The Bainbridge Island Fire Department has canceled all ride-alongs, station tours and community room use to curb the spread of COVID-19. The department has also closed facilities to walk-in assistance.
General assistance and information can still be obtained via the fire department’s main office line (206-842-7686) and website (www.bifd.org).
“We’re available for any questions that they may have,” said BIFD Chief Hank Teran.
“I need to stress the reason we’re doing this is we have to make sure our EMTs, our firefighters and our paramedics, are healthy and able to respond and we’re trying to make sure that we anticipate that if this is prolonged that our people are healthy and we can still provide the services we need for the community,” Teran said.
To that end, first responders are following new protocols to help protect themselves and patients from potential contact with the 2019 novel coronavirus, including the wearing of additional equipment.
According to a recent department message, “If you see us responding in this enhanced protective gear, please know this is out of an abundance of caution to keep you safe. Don’t assume the patient we are treating has COVID-19. We do not have testing capability at the fire department. We are all in this together. Let’s do our part to keep our vulnerable community members healthy.”
Tehran said Tuesday that no member of the department had yet had to self quarantine or show potential symptoms.
“It’s a precaution for the community as well as for the firefighters,” he explained. “Because when we go on emergency calls, we want to make sure that we also protect the public as well.”
Monday, the city of Bainbridge Island activated its Emergency Operations Center due to the spread of COVID-19. City officials said the center will work “to manage and prioritize resource requests across the community, and to coordinate additional communication and outreach.”
Though the fire department does have its own EOC, Teran said for now leadership was being incorporated into the city’s general response.
“We have a department operations center that we open up, but right now we’re partnering with the city so we actually have a seat at the table.”