State Deploying Firefighters to Hospitals Overrun with COVID Patients

We’ve seen the state’s Office of Emergency’s Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System in action when there’s large wildfires. Departments from across the state send strike teams and resources to help battle the blaze. COVID 19 is now the fire, and hospitals are the hot zones. And that critical system has been activated to help hospitals overrun with patients infected with coronavirus.

“What we don’t want is hospitals going into crisis care, crisis care, is when they’re having to make decisions on the quality of care an individual would get because they don’t have enough resources,” says the Cal OES director Mark Ghilarducci. 

Twenty-three EMTs and paramedics have been deployed to different regions, heroes like captain and paramedic Shawn Arden from the Palm Springs Fire Department answered the call.  

“This is what we do when crisis calls,” says Arden from outside the Barstow Community Hospital, where he and two other paramedics will be deployed for at least 14 days and can be extended to 21 days depending on the severity of the Christmas / New Year’s surge.

The support they’re providing hospitals is priceless. 

“Triage assessments, IV starts, intubations, just to help relieve some of the burden on the doctor for the more critical COVID patients,” adding he’s seeing the toll the virus is taking on the small community, “we’ve had several families here that I‘ve seen that have been significantly affected with both mother and father dying.” 

Cathedral City Fire Chief John Muhr says Cal OES sent his department a request, “This is my thirty-second year in the fire service and I never thought that we would see a time when we would be sending our firefighters in our hospitals to help assist, it’s very unique times.” 

He says if their assignment’s local this will help their ambulances dealing with hospital surge delays, “Really might be in our best interest to have our firefighters that are available working at our local hospitals in that it will help to free up our ambulances it will help to free up our ambulances so that we can attend to 911 calls.”

And while his team is eager to help, Muhr says he won’t send them without protection from the vaccine, “I’m proud of their willingness to go out into this hot zone and look out for the public interest, I‘m going to have to be the one that’s a little more constrained and make sure that we do this calculated and make sure my folks are protected.” 

Capt. Arden says he hasn’t had the vaccine yet, but is taking every precaution to stay safe and go back home to his wife and five children, “I love them and I miss them and I appreciate the sacrifice they make for letting me be here.” 

His motto is simple and one we can all learn from too, “If you have the opportunity to protect somebody else by making decisions in the benefit of the greater good that’s probably what you should do.”

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