LAKE TWP. Overall, the number of calls into the Uniontown Fire Department have been down through the COVID-19 pandemic. One reason that may be happening, said Fire Chief Tom Wiles, is there are fewer number of cars on the road which equates to fewer car accidents.
“Plus, I believe EMS calls are lower because I think some people are afraid to go to the hospital right now,” Wiles said. “Most people are listening to the CDC which I think is doing a good job of keeping everyone up-to-date about what’s happening. The department gets direct email from the CDC and the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association to help us know the current situation and what we should and shouldn’t be doing.”
Several measures have been implemented in the department to keep the team safe such as limiting access to the administration offices, conducting meetings through phone conferencing and doing extra cleaning around the station.
“We have stopped taking blood pressure checks for residents for now and we are only allowing fire personnel in the station. Sometimes the families of the firefighters would come in to visit but we have stopped that for now,” Wiles said.
The are 31 firefighters in Lake Township with six full-time and 25 part-timeers. Wiles said the majority are firefighters/paramedics. There are three fire stations in Lake Township including Uniontown, Greentown and Hartville. All of the fire personnel have masks, shields and gloves for the team members and for the patients if they want to use them.
The department also has Tyvek suits for the EMS crews to use if a patient has been confirmed having the virus. And, everyone is using hand sanitizer.
Some of the extra cleaning procedures implemented include cleaning the trucks and ambulances “above and beyond” after every call. The doors on the vehicles are left open longer after each call to better air out the vehicles.
Wiles said the department had two firefighters at the beginning of the crisis who were not feeling well, but they were tested and both came out negative. None of the crews have encountered any patients with the virus.
Wiles said, “I think the social distancing has been helping a lot in Ohio. It’s important for all residents to wash their hands and heed all the warnings issued by Governor DeWine and CDC.”