Stafford County officials are asking for the public’s help in protecting first responders after five firefighters and one sheriff’s deputy were reportedly placed on emergency leave after responding to a call last week.

The patient during the March 26 call later tested positive for COVID-19, reports the Free Lance-Star. None of the first responders are showing symptoms.

Preserving and protecting the health of first responders is critical to Stafford’s plan for managing the coronavirus outbreak, according to a news release Thursday from Stafford County.

“I want to reassure the public that we have staffing models in place to continue the high level of service upon which Stafford’s residents depend for their own safety,” said Fire Chief Joseph Cardello. “We are asking the public to help us. If you are going to come into contact with a first responder, give them an immediate heads up if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus or could have been exposed.”

Officials are evaluating policies and procedures on a daily basis as information is disseminated from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Everything is being evaluated from the sanitization of equipment and facilities to methods of identifying and dealing with possible exposures, the release noted. Stafford is ensuring all responders are provided necessary personal protective equipment including cloth masks from local sewists. 

Stafford is asking for the public’s help in two regards:

·If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (shortness of breath, a fever of 100.4 or more and coughing) please alert 911 or first responder of your status before they approach you if possible. If possible, have a healthy family member update the responder of your status.

·Stafford is still taking donations of regular size sewn cloth masks. Local sewists are asked to follow the instructions referenced by Mary Washington Healthcare at https://bit.ly/39Al8Va. Donations may be dropped off at Stafford’s COVID-19 warehouse at 1326 Courthouse Road. You must call ahead at (540) 658-5304 or email eocdonations@staffordcountyva.gov to schedule a drop-off.

Officials also ask the public to heed Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order.

(1) comment

Catvol

Stafford County first responders, etc. should do what the rest of us are being told to do to keep themselves safe which is assume that everyone they come into contact with has the virus. A- it shouldn't be incumbent upon the citizen who is experiencing the need to call upon them to take the time out from their crisis to tell them they are experiencing symptoms and B- they may have the virus with no symptoms so would not report and still pass it along. Come on Stafford Public Service employees, this comes off as blaming citizens when what you should be doing is protecting yourselves at all times. You know better! Weak!

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