Marion County Fire Rescue has deployed the first three COVID-19 response rescues in the county.
Each of the three rescue units are comprised of firefighters and paramedics dedicated solely to 911 calls dealing with any suspected or positive COVID-19 patients in Marion County and the City of Ocala.
The firefighters will be outfitted with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that includes masks, gloves, goggles and a gown. The patient compartments of the rescue units are sealed off from the driver’s cab. Each person on the rescue will wear the PPE on every dispatched call.
Crews are practicing social distancing in dealing with suspected COVID-19 patients. Dispatchers are asking patients to meet the crews outside of their house, in an open-air environment. If this is not possible, one paramedic will make patient contact. If the paramedic needs assistance with the patient, he or she will request additional manpower.
“We are in unprecedented times within the fire rescue service,” said Fire Chief James Banta. “Like all other departments, we have had to modify our daily operations to deal with this pandemic.”
The specialized units are stationed throughout Marion County – Rescue #63 in the City of Ocala, Rescue #530 in Spruce Creek and Rescue #621 near On Top of the World. Crew members on the rescues thoroughly sanitize each unit after each suspected COVID-19 call.
Since this past Thursday, Marion County firefighters have been running an average of 33 COVID-19 calls per shift.
“We are prepared to deploy additional COVID-19 response rescues as call volume dictates,” Banta said. “Although there are only three dedicated COVID-19 rescues now, each of our 35 other rescues are prepared to respond to these, and our normal call volume.”