As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to rapidly evolve, the leadership of the West Grove Fire Company has been actively planning to assure the fire company is ready to address the situation, especially with the arrival of the first cases in Chester County.
The primary objective of all of the WGFC's planning for COVID-19 is to assure the availability of our members and staff to be able to respond to emergency calls in our community. As a result, much of our focus has been on assuring that our first responders are as isolated as possible and practical. As an example of why that is so important, take note of an Upper Merion Township fire department that quarantined 22 fire & EMS personnel after one member was exposed to COVID-19, making it very difficult for that department to staff for emergency response ( https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2020/03/12/coronavirus-in-pennsylvania-upper-merion-emt-tests-presumptive-positive-for-covid-19-prompting-quarantine-of-22-fire-ems-personnel/).
As such, the WGFC has taken a series of steps:
- Suspending group gatherings, including meetings, public fire house tours, public fire safety education programs in the community, and fire house visitors
- Practicing "distancing" policies, including asking first responders to not standby at firehouses, restricting how patient families ride in the ambulances, and isolating emergency crews from entering residences except those directly in patient contact
- Increasing the cleaning and sanitizing of the ambulances and apparatus and fire stations regularly during the day and after each call
- Regularly communicating with our first responders and township officials about the rapidly evolving situation.
For the community, here are some recommendations to help you:
- Use official government websites as your reliable source of information (social media should not be the place where you get official information on COVID-19)
- These sites are from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html) and the Chester County Dept. of Health (https://www.chesco.org/4376/Coronavirus-COVID-19)
- When calling for an emergency, expect the 911 center to ask questions about your recent health history, and those of the people in your household. Our crews will ask as well. This information helps us know how to best respond.
- Always call your doctor or hospital before going there. With the current situation, hospitals are severely restricting access for visitors and family members of patients, and may want you to use a special entrance if you have or are exhibiting signs of COVID-19. Call first!
We thank the community for their continued support of the fire company, especially during this current situation.