Video: IAFF holds health expert briefing on coronavirus protocols

The briefing informed firefighters about COVID-19 signs and symptoms, preparations and protections


By Laura French

WASHINGTON — The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) hosted a briefing with industry and health experts to address best practices and protocols for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

The briefing was held in Washington, D.C., and live-streamed via the IAFF’s YouTube channel on Tuesday morning.

During the event, IAFF leaders, health experts and government representatives discussed protective protocols and equipment recommended to minimize potential exposure to the virus, as well as the process for quarantining firefighters who may have been exposed and suggestions for communicating with healthcare facilities, government agencies and the public about the disease. 

The following protections were recommended for first responders to protect themselves from infection:

  • N-95 or P100 masks 
  • Face shields or goggles
  • A surgical mask placed on the patient, if possible
  • Clean, non-sterile, long-sleeved, fluid-resistant gowns
  • Gloves
  • Single-use, disposable equipment or dedicated equipment to be decontaminated
  •  Hand washing
  • Bleach solution for disinfecting ambulances
  • Routine cleaning and disinfecting of patient-contact areas

Officials explained how the disease can be spread through the air via respiratory droplets, and recommended keeping a 6-foot distance from a potentially infected individual when it is not necessary to get closer. 

Firefighters who may have been exposed are directed to enter a 14-day quarantine to monitor signs and symptoms, and officials said quarantining at home was preferred over quarantining at the fire station, which could interfere with fire department operations. 

Fire agencies were also encouraged to ensure close communication with healthcare facilities and officials to stay informed about coronavirus cases in their area and infected patients they may have had contact with. Communication with federal, state and local governments was also encouraged in order to ensure needed funding and resources for managing the virus are allocated to first responders.

IAFF asked that firefighters check the association's dedicated coronavirus page each morning and afternoon as it will be continually updated with new information. 

The briefing came after 27 firefighters were quarantined in Kirkland, Washington, after responding to a care center where multiple patients tested positive for the virus.

There have been 177 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 11 coronavirus deaths in the United States so far, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE. There have been more than 97,000 cases and more than 3,300 deaths worldwide.

Visit the IAFF Coronavirus Resource page for more information.

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