LOS ANGELES – These are unsettling times for L.A. City Fire Captain Erik Scott, who has been working remotely in his home office like so many of the Angelenos he serves.
“It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before so we are working tirelessly to make sure our members are informed and have the proper equipment,” Scott said.
As one of the department’s public information officers, Scott first tweeted about the coronavirus back in January, sharing the extra precautions the LAFD was taking when people flew into LAX with flu-like symptoms.
That was nearly two months before the city issued a Safer-at-Home order.
“You know Chief Terrazas has very been forward-leaning on all of the policies and procedures, constantly updating them, making sure that all the way in January our firefighters were informed,” Scott said.
Since then the fire department has made wide-ranging changes to protect both its members and the public. Now when someone calls 911, dispatch asks extra questions to determine if a patient might be at-risk for having the virus so that responding crews can have the proper equipment and attire.
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“You’re going to see our firefighters, even on their routine medical calls, now start wearing masks. Additionally, you’ll see us hand the mask to a patient,” Scott said. “But another new thing we’ve done is we’re calling it the 1-in-1-out rule. Maintaining six feet of distance between our patients when we’re performing an assessment.”
LAFD members are getting their temperature checked twice a day and no more visitors are allowed at fire stations, where communal living has called for extra cleaning and sanitation measures.
The fire department is also providing testing for its members. At least seven out of 147 tested have already been confirmed positive.
“Those members are off duty and doing well,” Scott said.
Despite a growing 911 demand in other cities, like hard-hit NYC, Scott says overall emergency incidents last week were actually down eight percent and hospital transports decreased by 35 percent.
“We attribute that to a lot of people heeding the mayor’s warning that they’ll be safer and home,” he said.