Marion County Fire Rescue deploys COVID-19 rescue teams

Marion County Fire Rescue is trying something new to combat COVID-19.

“We not only respond to the public in their time of need, it’s our job to bring calm to chaos,” Marion County Fire Rescue Chief James Banta said.

The chief is dedicating three of his trucks and 18 of his firefighters and medics solely to coronavirus-related calls.

“This pandemic can expand so rapidly that it could definitely have a negative impact on the amount people we have that are able to cover their shifts at work,” Captain Daniel Jodoin said. “In change, it would put the people of Marion County at risk.”

All three trucks are loaded with personal protection equipment. Every member of the team will wear PPE out on calls.

“We’re being very proactive to make sure the first responders are here when the public needs them and they’re safe and the community is safe,” Chief Banta said.

It’s a part of fire rescue’s strategy to save equipment and lives.

“We use these to cut down on our burn rate at which we’re using some of the PPE,” Captain Jodoin said. “So, we’re still running regular 911 calls. Those are still coming in. There’s not a need to have our rescuers in PPE for every call.”

Fire rescue is also looking at alternative forms of PPE. They are practicing COVID-19 calls using their firefighting masks to prevent the spread.

“We want the community to know that we are prepared,” Chief Banta said. “We are ready. This will end. This will be over and we’ll be OK and we’ll get through it.”

Marion County Fire Rescue has three units right now.

It plans on adding a fourth soon.