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As part of the ongoing response to COVID-19, some aspects of the City of Minot’s daily operations have changed as necessary. But this hasn’t changed: If there’s a fire or a medical emergency, the Minot Fire Department will respond as always.
“Some administrative staff is working from home, but by the nature of their job, firefighters have to be at the fire stations, ready to respond at a moment’s notice,” said Fire Chief Kelli Kronschnabel. “That hasn’t changed.”
There have been some tweaks to everyday operations in response to the pandemic.
Two firefighters from Fire Station 2 near downtown will respond to lower level emergency medical calls to help minimize the risk to FD employees. Kronschnabel said serious medical calls are still answered by personnel from one of Minot’s four stations, depending on the location of the incident.
“Additionally, when we arrive on scene of a medical call, if Community Ambulance is already there and they determine they don’t need us, we won’t go into structures or interact with people needlessly,” the chief said. “We’re trying to protect our workforce and minimize the number of people potentially exposed.”
Other department changes include postponing all travel and training and instituting a no visitor policy at all fire stations. In addition, all deliveries to the stations are being left in building entryways to eliminate that point of contact for both the Fire Department and the delivery person.
Social distancing? That’s not usually a problem, the chief said.
“On a fire scene, everyone generally stays away from us to let us do our job of fighting a fire, so there’s already social distancing,” Kronschnabel said. “As everyone should be, we’re simply trying to minimize our risk of exposure. We appreciate the public’s assistance with this when we’re on the scene of a fire or a medical assistance call.”
Kronschnabel said the department recently did an inventory of its equipment, especially personal protective equipment such as facemasks and other items,
“We always have stockpiles of PPE because we never know when we’re going to need those items,” the chief said. “We did our inventory a while ago and projected how long we can go without ordering more, and we’re in good shape right now.”
A local agency donated some N-95 facemasks to the department, and Kronschnabel said those masks were donated to Trinity Health.
Kronschnabel credited Dr. Howard Reeve from Trinity Health, who specializes in occupational medicine, with providing outstanding care for her department.
“He’s been amazing for us. If we have a question, he’s always available to answer our questions and provide us with good, accurate information,” she said.
The chief said no changes have been made to her department’s overall schedule at this point.
“We’re pleased right now that we have a solid work force in place and we want to keep it that way,” she said. “If we need to make shift schedule changes we will, but we’re not to that point right now and we’re hoping we don’t get to that point.”
Her advice to members of the public?
“If you can stay home, please stay home because that will help minimize everyone’s exposure and we all want to keep our employees safe,” Kronschnabel said. “Obviously, we’re still here to answer the call when there is a fire or a medical emergency, and that’s not going to change.”