Answering the Call(s) | First Responders at Front Line of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

South Pasadena police and fire department officials are vital, responding to multiple calls, from traffic accidents to medical issues and, of course, now with COVID-19

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News

While a majority of America’s workforce has been asked to take a step back and stay home, there’s another key sector tasked to key moving forward.

First responders – Emergency medical services (EMS)  paramedics, firefighters, and police – are on the frontlines daily of the fight against novel coronavirus as the pandemic continues worldwide.

Their jobs put them at risk when it comes to the deadly virus as they take every precaution going out on a call while enduring burnout, exhaustion and other challenges in face of a heavy workload and the virus.

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“Our Firefighter’s wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on every EMS call,” explained South Pasadena Fire Chief Paul Riddle. “The PPE’s include mask, gown, eye protection and gloves.”

First responders are vital, responding to multiple calls, from traffic accidents to health concerns, and, of course, those confronted with COVID-19. Triaging patients, providing treatment and, in some cases, transporting ill individuals to nearby hospitals are all in a day’s effort. EMS workers have unique challenges, asked to make quick decisions when a person’s life could be on the line.

South Pasadena firefighters/paramedics also perform decontamination measures after every call to ensure the apparatus and fire stations remain safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The information changes rapidly and we are constantly engaged with our neighboring cities and our county, state and federal partners,” explained Riddle. “All 31 fire departments in the county and the region meet weekly via teleconference to discuss best practices as well as operational challenges in responding to potential increased calls for service.”

The fire chief has taken notice that residents are heeding the message from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Gov. Gavin Newsom about the importance of staying home, to wash hands and use social distancing to flatten the curve of the virus.

Like the local fire department, South Pasadena police take proper measures to protect themselves, wearing gloves, masks and stay at a safe distance, striking a balance between protecting civilians and themselves.

Riddle would like to thank the community for adhering to the “safer at Home’ orders” as part of both county and state mandates. “We are all in this together and the more we all follow the guidelines and stay home whenever possible the better off we will be,” explained the fire chief. “We will get through this! Again, the more we stay at home during this critical time and slow the spread, the more effective we will be in responding to the community’s needs and recovering from this crisis.”

During a difficult time in the nation’s history, Riddle says the South Pasadena community “has been amazing,” noting, “We really appreciate the support of our community during this stressful time. It is important that our community know that their police and fire departments are both fully staffed and stay committed in providing exceptional emergency services during this time.”