VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Firefighters risk their lives every day to serve their community. Virginia Beach Fire Chief David Hutcheson said the department is taking extra precautions to keep everyone safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A fire chief on a normal everyday basis is ok. It’s kind of cool. It’s an honor and a privilege, but during the jet crash, during the shooting, during the virus that’s when we earn our salary and that is what we are here for,” Chief Hutcheson explained.
Hutcheson said at the beginning of the pandemic, several firefighters spent 14 days quarantined because they were possibly exposed. He said it was because first responders weren’t getting enough information heading to the call. 911 dispatchers are now asking several questions before sending a crew to the scene.
“We always have a level of what the personal protective equipment is on every call and it’s body fluid precautions. When calls warrant that and that’s always been that way, it’s just now it’s much more stringent on what we are wearing. We are assuming that you may have COVID or some sort of bug that could get us,” he said.
Hutcheson said no Virginia Beach firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and that no one is currently on quarantine.
“We have full strength,” Hutcheson said. “Our firefighters are at 100%. We are actually above 100%. We moved people out of day jobs that they can’t do right now so are apparatus is fully staffed.”
Firefighters now wear PPE to every call and treat every patient as if they have the virus.
"Because everyone is hunkered down, we are not getting the everyday calls like we were getting," he explained. "One thing we are seeing is an uptick in cardiac calls because people are not wanting to necessarily go to the emergency rooms.”
To limit exposure of COVID-19, Chief Hutcheson said they are not sending the entire crew inside a home to help a patient unless it is necessary.
“You have to treat things differently so it’s not just a cookie-cutter, but the first person going in is making the determination as to how many others they need to help them and we are trying to keep that to a minimum but if it warrants everyone has to go in, then everyone has to go in,” Hutcheson said.
Chief Hutcheson said the department has enough PPE to last for a little over a month. If you would like to donate supplies, click here. He said the community should know that their level of care has not changed. The PPE is just helping first responders stay safe and healthy.