A Rhode Island firefighter with the coronavirus is in critical condition.
The veteran Pawtucket firefighter has been placed in intensive care, and sources described him as “fighting for his life,” WPRI-TV reports. He is one of three Pawtucket firefighters who tested positive for COVID-19.
On Sunday night, fellow firefighters drove department apparatus—running their lights and sirens—by the hospital to show support for their colleague. The ill firefighter has been with the department since April 2017.
At least 21 firefighters had been quarantined at one point last week because of direct exposure to their infected co-workers. One Pawtucket firefighters told WPRI that he feared more would contract the deadly virus because the 152-member department does not have an “infection control program.”
He added that many firefighters have compromised immune systems because of the job’s grueling hours and shifts that can make getting sleep tough. Combine that with responding to calls where they might be exposed to COVID-19-positive patients and the risk of becoming infected becomes high.
According to the department, firefighters are required to take their temperatures and fill out a health questionnaire before shifts. Mayor Donald Grebian also said firefighters are trained to keep their workspace and equipment clean.
“There are policies, procedures, and guidelines in place for all first responders in regard to disinfecting and sanitation when dealing with all types of diseases,” he told WPRI.
The mayor added that an isolation area is being considered for firefighters, so they limit exposure to the coronavirus, as well as limit those firefighters possibly exposing others.
“We’re working on one of the older churches as possibly dedicated for (firefighters), so they don’t bring it home to their families,” Grebian told WPRI.