Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis is calling for quick COVID-19 testing for first responders in the Sunshine State.
Patronis, the state fire marshal, spoke to the presidents of the Florida Professional Firefighters and the Florida Fire Chiefs Association on Tuesday and weighed in on tests for first responders afterward.
“It’s important we move heaven and earth to make sure our first responders get their COVID-19 tests turned around as quickly as possible, get the protective equipment they need, and are in strong communication with hospitals and county health units,” Patronis said on Tuesday after the call. “We know there will be stress on supply chains and there may be situations where there are more needs than available resources, but when one firefighter tests positive for COVID-19, an entire unit of firefighters goes offline.
“On today’s call, it became apparent that, while some COVID-19 tests can be turned around in a short amount of time, others may take more than a week – and that’s not an acceptable timeline for the men and women we need to not only fight the coronavirus, but respond to other emergencies like fires. First responders must be provided tests results as quickly as possible, so we can keep our communities protected,” Patronis added.
“Additionally, it is imperative hospitals communicate better with first responders when entering facilities. There have been certain instances where firefighters have brought individuals into hospitals and become exposed to COVID-19. Had they known they were being led to unsafe areas, they would have worn protective gear. These are avoidable issues that must be addressed immediately,” he said in conclusion.
Patronis has raised the issue to the leadership of the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) and wants to have a representative from each organization at the Emergency Operations Center to spur things along.
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