Fall River firefighter tests positive for coronavirus

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FALL RIVER, MASS (WLNE) –  The global pandemic is hitting close to home for the Fall River Fire Department after a firefighter tested positive for the coronavirus.

Chief John D. Lynch said the firefighter, a man in his 30’s, is isolated at home, and his symptoms are mild.

“A mild cough. You know he said he was a little sore like the flu. The guy said he felt pretty good,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot of caution in the fire station amongst the firefighters and the paramedics.”

Lynch said the firefighter reported to work on March 20th and after he tested positive for COVID-19, six other firefighters he worked with that day are now under quarantine and being tested for the virus.

Three results came back negative, and the rest are due back Friday.

However, Lynch said that other members of the department were also in quarantine, including some who have underlying medical issues, and one who traveled internationally for the military.

The fire department said they are doing OK with staff and the budget for overtime pay, but Lynch said he hopes it doesn’t get worse.

Procedures have been put in the place to protect each firefighter on the job, including a vetting process when dispatch takes calls, and even being a little more cautious when entering a home.

“We won’t send everybody into the house,” Lynch said. “We’ll probably send one person, obviously with full personal protective equipment, and they’re going to evaluate the person and make a determination whether we need more people.”

The department is also disinfecting stations regularly and doing the same for trucks after each call.

“Religiously three times a day we are disinfecting the stations. Obviously the apparatus gets disinfected on a regular basis also but obviously coming back from calls,” he said.

It’s been a wake-up for others at the department, according to Lynch, because it’s hitting so close to home.

“Psychologically it’s affected the department because obviously this is something that’s very very unique. Much bigger than anything we’ve handled before,” he said. “Guys are starting to realize the severity of this.So all of the policies, the procedures, the protocols that we put in place because of this crisis they are really starting to take serious because now it’s really starting to hit home.”

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, Your Health