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Fire departments maintain service while adjusting to COVID-19
March 27, 2020

Jacob Wandersee
Newsroom Assistant

DASSEL, MN – Entities across the country are working on ways to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and local fire departments are no exception.

Lieutenant Matthew Doughty of the Dassel Fire Department shared some insight as to how local emergency response units are handling this crisis.

The department is following the guidelines and recommendations of the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and other government agencies.

The department is practicing safe social distancing in its day-to-day operations, limiting the number of people allowed to be in meetings, the dining area, or the truck station, at the same time, to nine or fewer.

The department is also following CDC guidelines by extensively disinfecting the trucks and equipment that is being used.

Due to the crisis, the department is low on certain supplies. On most of their basic equipment, reorders are limited, causing some difficulties with properly equipping members.

“We don’t have very many masks, and not nearly the number we should have.” Doughty noted. Masks could be used on virtually every call, but they have to be used mindfully, due to the limited supply.

Doughty also noted that the departments of both Dassel and Cokato would welcome any donation of N95 masks, either purchased or homemade, and any donation would be appreciated.

The department did receive a donation of protective suits from 3M to protect responders when working with those showing COVID-19 symptoms. However, most of those suits are being rationed, and saved to use if and when the number of cases starts to rise in Meeker county.

The pandemic has also changed the way the department can respond in an emergency. In a normal emergency situation, the team would have three to four people respond to a medical call. On arrival, the entire team would typically enter to facilitate taking vitals, and provide help as needed.

Since COVID-19, things are being done a little differently to keep everyone, including the responders, safe. If there are any signs of symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, only one person will make entry to assess the patient first, so the entire unit is not exposed to that risk.

Members of the fire department, first responders, and EMTs, however, may not find it easy to sit on the sidelines.

“We aren’t going to stop helping people, because helping people is what we do. That is why we are on this team,” Doughty commented.

During this time of unrest and uncertainty, the Dassel Fire Department remains committed to support the community.

“The Dassel Fire and Rescue and its membership wishes our community and its members safety and health during this unsettling time. We will be here for you and we will get through this together,” Doughty said.

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