After answering more than 200 “COVID-type” medical calls since mid-March, none of Burnsville’s firefighter-paramedics have tested positive for COVID-19, the fire chief said.
“Knock on wood, yep — they’re still healthy and we plan to keep ’em healthy,” B.J. Jungmann told the City Council on Tuesday during a staff update on the city’s pandemic response.
But firefighters’ routines have changed.
Firefighters wear surgical masks because social distancing is difficult while living together at the station or getting into a truck, Jungmann said.
Firefighter boots can carry the coronavirus, so they’re not worn in the city’s two stations, he said.
On calls, firefighters’ personal protective equipment includes gowns and N95 masks, the chief said. Supply has been a challenge, with the department getting some PPE from the national stockpile and working with fellow agencies across the nation to find suppliers, Jungmann said.
After transporting COVID-19 patients, firefighters disinfect all ambulance surfaces with UV light and change uniforms, he said.
The countywide dispatch center screens medical callers for COVID-19 symptoms so responders know ahead of time. That hasn’t hindered response times, according to Jungmann.
“I’m very proud of the work our folks are doing,” he said. “They’re performing at a very high level in these challenging times and they’re making sure the community is taken care of throughout this.”
Live meetings to return
The staff is making plans to return to live public meetings instead of virtual ones, Deputy City Manager Gregg Lindberg said. Social distancing measures are planned. Live council meetings will resume “shortly,” he said.
Some staff members who’ve been working remotely will return this month, Lindberg said.
“Thus far I have not heard any complaints about service to our community,” Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said.
The ice arena will reopen next week, City Manager Melanie Lee said. City athletic fields remain open, but decisions by statewide sports associations have kept local teams off the fields, Public Works Director Ryan Peterson said.
Because the city isn’t hiring seasonal employees this year, local athletic associations will assume some field maintenance duties, Lee said.