KANSAS CITY, Kan. — KCK firefighters fear their department hasn’t prepared them properly for the coronavirus outbreak after five firefighters were put in isolation.
The firefighters found out two days after a call to Life Care Center in KCK that the cardiac patient they took to Providence Medical Center tested positive for COVID-19 after he died.
The news has left the local firefighters union concerned about crews’ health and safety.
On Friday, Alvey declared a state of emergency in Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County in response to coronavirus.
“What this will enable us to do is easily procure the necessary material and finance or resources to help the spread of the contagion,” the mayor said.
KCK firefighters hope some of the resources made available will be used to provide equipment and training to better with the virus.
“I’m not so sure that we have access and have been provided all the resources we need this time for the individual apparatus,” said J.J. Simma, president of IAFF Local 64.
Other than the same guidelines about personal care put out to the public, Simma said it wasn’t until Friday afternoon — after those five firefighters were ordered to isolate — that crews received a memo from top brass at KCKFD with specific guidelines on how to approach their job.
Last week, KCMO Fire Chief Donna Maize put a full-protection approach in place, including extra gear to protect firefighters and a disinfectant fogger to clean ambulances.
“But I think I would in our membership would feel much more comfortable if we were taking steps in that manner even if they were above and beyond,” Simma said, “because what where I believe doing as of right now it’s available to us is. Possibly some masks if we have them, possibly some gowns, which are not in camps related they don’t come for all of your skin body and basic safety glasses and gloves like we always wear.”
Alvey said he believes the KCK fire department is equipped right now to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It is like any other any other public health crisis,” he said. “You could come into a house with somebody who has tuberculosis. You can come into a house with someone who has hepatitis. The same kinds of measures are brought into there.”
Alvey encouraged firefighters who feel like they are not protected to protected to report it.