The union representing New Orleans firefighters is asking that crews not be sent out on all medical calls because of limited personal protection equipment recommended for use with coronavirus cases.
Union president Aaron Mischler says fire crews are normally dispatched along with Emergency Medical Services and usually arrive first. He says they now have a dwindling supply of masks and some protective glasses.
He says as many as 12 firefighters have been exposed to people with a presumptive positive test result. They are advised to keep a mask on for 24 hours. Fire Chief Tim McConnell has said the initial policy called for a two-week quarantine after an exposure, but staffing levels are too strained.
Mischler says ranks remain depleted.
“We have 480 firefighters right now," said Michler. "We’re anywhere between 80 and 120 firefighters short of where we should be.”
Mischler say the union wants the double-response policy suspended until the pandemic is over.In New