First responders find new challenges each day amid COVID-19

Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 9:25 PM EDT
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It's a new world for first responders. Their jobs have always taken them into the unknown, but now each incident poses a whole new set of challenges, some they never expected.

Firefighters in Toledo and throughout the area haven't stopped responding to calls and won't anytime soon. But now, add a global pandemic virus to the mix.

"Everyday we go into the unknown. It's a pretty controlled unknown. If you go on an auto accident, you know what you're getting into. If you go into a house fire, you know what you're going into. Right now, we don't know what we're getting into,” said Dan Desmond, President of Local 92.

Desmond isn't on the front lines anymore, but he knows it's an apprehensive time. He just wishes there were more answers.

“I always pride myself on getting answers to questions, but it seems with this uncharted situation that we find ourselves in, questions just begot more questions,” said Desmond.

"There's a certain level of stress that goes with this job and we all know that but it's taking it to a higher level obviously,” said Private Sterling Rahe of the Toledo Fire Department.

The numbers bear that out. As of Monday, there were more than two dozen Toledo firefighters in either quarantine or isolation because of potential COVID-19 exposure. With a potential exposure, the health and wellness officers work with the medical officers to determine the next step and notifying that crew associated with the potentially infected person.

"With medical direction, we are notifying individuals that have potential exposure to known COVID or suspected COVID patient,” said Pvt. Rahe.

All in a day's work for what’s become far more than a day's work.

There is something else that could help first responders. The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police has asked the Governor to give first responders with a confirmed case or presumed positive case benefits from the Bureau of Worker's Compensation.

No decision has been made on that proposal.

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