Our “unique” community is due in large part to our kind and caring nature. It is the very reason why we live here! The challenge is communicating that we must not stop caring for each other but how we can care for each other moving forward during the current health crisis. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Lake Wenatchee Fire and Rescue has been heavily invested in developing a plan with local and state agencies in how to best respond to an “event.” Most of you have read or seen how just one Fire Department in our state has been adversely impacted by responding to a care facility for what at the time must have seemed like a “routine call.” Many patients, families, responders, and care providers are now caught in what must seem like a nightmare of concerns, information, rapidly changing protocols, real or imagined symptoms, frustration, and to be truthful fear. Planning, not panic, is imperative. This virus seems to impact the elderly and those with underlying health conditions the worst.
Containment and testing are the biggest challenges right now, with treatment seeming to be most difficult again to those who are up in years and have heart, respiratory, immune deficiencies, or diabetes. Many large gatherings are being canceled or rescheduled, certain travel restrictions are in place, and in some cases, isolation and even quarantines are in play. So many ask what can be done. First, wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, and cover your cough or sneezes, and, most importantly, if you are sick, stay home. I am keeping a “diary” of places, and sometimes people I interact with help (if needed, to identify my “paths of travel”).
Check on those who need to be checked on (by phone first), but a knock on the door without entering can make sure everything is OK. For now, a neighbor’s house or home, we just walked into may not be the best idea. If there is a concern, call 911, and we will respond! Taking a family member or friend straight to the hospital may not be the best way to get help. Our response procedures have changed, and how we look when we show up may look much different. We are prepared with the proper protective equipment, are limiting the number of how many responders enter a home, and in some cases, may seek medical authority to determine the correct treatment or transport for that particular incident. We should all have extra “stuff” at home in case isolation or quarantine is recommended. These steps are the same as any other disaster planning efforts. Water, food, pet food, meds, etc. (please don’t ask me about the toilet paper issue; it’s just weird) are just some of the essentials. If you become ill or start feeling ill, drink plenty of fluids, take your temperature frequently, any increase in difficulty breathing call 911.
The dispatch center has a list of “telephone triage” questions they will ask to help responders get quickly to you with the right equipment and right people. If you need a friend or neighbor (or us) to pick up some things for you, have them leave it on the porch, we’ll settle up later. While most of this is common sense, it still is a change in how we have been doing things. We are creatures of habit, and habits are hard to break (like shaking hands/touching our faces), sharing drinks, etc.
LWFR is as prepared as we can be, flexible to change when needed, and concerned about your safety! In the coming days, we will post links to additional info and when better developed “hot- line” numbers for those who have additional questions.
In closing, I want to thank our Volunteer Firefighters! They have taken on added risks, responsibilities, and training to be ready and able to help this great and UNIQUE community.
Mick Lamar, Fire Chief LWFR