News Headlines
Wed. Dec 23rd 2020
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Wapello Fire and Rescue recognized two of our members for their outstanding achievements during our annual Christmas dinner and training Tuesday evening. Every year the Fire Chief, First Assistant and...
Sun. Mar 22nd 2020
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In response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak currently occurring, we wanted to take a moment to ensure our citizens that we are taking additional precautions to ensure that we can continue...
Thu. Dec 26th 2019
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Wapello Fire and Rescue celebrated two service milestones and recognized two of our members for their outstanding achievements during our annual Christmas dinner and training Monday evening. Every yea...
Sun. Sep 9th 2018
In June 2018, an onsite audit of Wapello Fire Department was conducted by Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. ISO is a company that collects and evaluates information from...
Wed. Mar 1st 2017
Wapello Fire and Rescue recognized two of our members for their outstanding service. Every year the Fire Chief, First Assistant and Second Assistant choose two members that have made significant contr...
News
COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus Plan
Sun. Mar 22nd 2020

In response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak currently occurring, we wanted to take a moment to ensure our citizens that we are taking additional precautions to ensure that we can continue to provide uninterrupted service to our community while protecting our staff. Our department leadership has been in contact with local health officials and is closely reviewing guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You have undoubtedly noticed that many businesses and healthcare facilities across the region have modified their normal processes in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. While these changes may present an inconvenience for you, it is important that we adjust to them without panic. The goal is to slow the spread of the illness as to not overwhelm our healthcare resources. These steps will certainly save lives. Remember, while you and your loved ones may be at a low risk for complications from this virus, others are not so lucky. Our community has many good people with underlying health conditions that put them at extreme risk of dangerous complications from this virus. It should also be noted that people can transmit the virus while they are asymptomatic so it is extremely important to comply with government recommendations.

It is important to ensure that our emergency services have adequate resources to respond to not only to individuals experiencing emergencies related to COVID-19, but also for our routine emergency calls such as fires, accidents, technical rescues and other emergency medical calls. It is no secret that volunteerism has been rapidly declining in recent years and there are less people willing to commit the time necessary to meet the required minimum training, continuing education and increased call volume. First responders across the nation have been dealing with increasing responsibilities for several years while staffing levels continue to decline. We simply can’t risk losing large percentages of our staff to quarantine in the event that they become exposed to the virus. For this reason, with the help of our public safety dispatchers at the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office, we are taking additional steps to minimize the risk to our staff.

You may notice some operational changes if you do need to activate emergency services in our community. First of all, when our dispatchers take a call, they will ask a series of screening questions to determine if there is an elevated risk of COVID-19 at the location of the call. Please be patient with the dispatchers. The questions will only take a few seconds and will help us to take the appropriate precautions during our response. The information will be relayed to responding agencies so we can modify our response if necessary. If the responses from the screening questions indicate that there is elevated risk or the dispatch information suggests that we should have an increased index of suspicion, we will take additional infection control precautions as determined by our plan. You might notice a decreased number of responders staffing our units. Our plan is to limit the number of firefighters or EMS providers that respond to certain calls. Additional personnel might stage outside the location of the call to be available if they are needed. Remember, these decisions will be based off of dispatch information and are subject to change. We respond to a large number of calls in a normal year that would fit the criteria that we are implementing for the new infection control guidance. Just because you may see us taking these additional precautions does not mean that we suspect that the patient has COVID-19. There are many other reasons that a person could have a fever or difficulty breathing. We are simply following a protocol.

This is a very fluid situation and as we learn more about the disease, the plan will be modified as needed. Below is what we are asking of the members of our community.

  • If you are having minor symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever or cough, self-isolate, contact your doctor and follow their recommendations.
  • If you or a loved one are having symptoms of a possible medical emergency such as chest pain, significant shortness of breath, an altered level of consciousness or bluish lips and/or face, call 911 without delay.
  • Calmly answer all of the dispatch questions and follow their instructions.
  • Ensure that you remain close to the phone that you utilized to call 911 if possible. If you are no longer connected to the 911 dispatcher, responding agencies may attempt to contact you to ask additional screening questions prior to making patient contact.  
  • If you are calling 911 for a reason unrelated to COVID-19 and anyone in the house has fever, cough or difficulty breathing, ensure that you are passing that information onto the dispatcher so all responding agencies are aware of the potential risk.
  • Please use good social distance practices at all times. You may be tempted to approach emergency responders when they arrive on scene. Please maintain at least six feet of distance from our staff and allow our designated emergency provider approach you once we have taken the proper precautions.
  • Remember that even though we are a small community and we know many of the patients that we care for, these are extreme times for us. We have an extremely limited supply of personal protective equipment and we have implemented a plan to conserve this equipment as much as possible while the supply chain disruptions exist. You or a bystander might be tempted to approach a responder that you know however, that person might not be the designated caregiver for your call. Please do not approach the other responders.
  • Please understand that this is not an ideal situation for any of us. We are doing our best to adapt to the changes which are coming almost daily. Please do not take it personally if we do not appear as approachable as we normally are. We are simply using the minimal amount of resources that we have to keep our staff and their families safe. We have a limited number of trained emergency responders in the area and a widespread quarantine of our staff would be crippling to our operation.
  • Most importantly, follow the guidance of your government officials. Americans have a long history of persevering during times of crisis. We will make it through this challenging time just as we have during past disasters. The most important thing right now is to remain calm and slow the spread of the virus so our healthcare system is not overwhelmed. This is best accomplished by limiting exposure to other people. In our mobile society, this is a lot to ask but please think about the safety of essential services personnel and the vulnerable populations that you are putting at risk if you ignore the guidance.

 

Below are some links with additional resources.

Iowa Department of Public Health - https://idph.iowa.gov/

Louisa County Public Health - http://www.louisacountypublichealth.com/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - https://www.cdc.gov/

World Health Organization - https://www.who.int/

120 entries in the News

120 entries in the News


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