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Small Town Firefighters Adapt To New Ways Of Working In Coronavirus Age

Small town first responders are among those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. WSHU’s Davis Dunavin reports on how one Connecticut fire company is approaching the pandemic.

EMS and fire companies are often made up of volunteers in small towns and villages. Like the Chesterfield Fire Company in Montville, Connecticut.

Steven Frischling is the company’s public information officer.

“A big city obviously has a staff that works on a regular rotating schedule. They have things in place that allow staff to be shifted around as needed. Volunteer fire companies, volunteer EMS providers don’t have that.”

Frischling says the company’s regular trainings are much smaller, and they’re now held outside. But when it comes to emergencies, he says you can’t always observe the ideal social distance.

“There have been some people who say you need to stay away from the people in your firehouse. And while we’re putting every precaution in place for that, the reality is when the tones go out and you have to get on a truck or an ambulance, you don’t have the luxury of being six feet away from the person you’re with.”

So the department has adapted. Only one person goes in a house on a medical call now – unless more are needed. And if a patient can walk, they’ll walk themselves to the ambulance, so the cab is sealed off.

“That way there’s only one person who has to be decontaminated from the EMS crew, instead of a whole crew.”

Frischling says his job as public information officer has changed, too. He runs the department’s social media page.

“I used to write about training fires, car accidents. Now I’m writing things about how to talk to your children about a virus they can’t possibly understand. This is not really what I do (laughs).”

So he says he just tries to make sure people have the latest information – and the most accurate information – about how to protect themselves.

Credit Courtesy of Chesterfield Fire Company
Courtesy of Chesterfield Fire Company
An infographic put out by the Chesterfield Fire Company as part of its COVID-19 community outreach.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.
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