HONOLULU (KHON2) — Dozens of first responders have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hawaii. With the holidays coming up, the Honolulu Fire Department says they are taking all the necessary precautions, but the public needs to do their part as well.
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Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the City and County of Honolulu has been sending first responders, who are symptomatic or came into close contact with someone who they think is symptomatic, to get tested at the state’s mobile COVID-19 testing site. From the tests they’ve analyzed so far, a high COVID-19 positivity rate has been observed.
“(We’ve tested) 150 people. We have a positivity rate of 6.6 percent. That’s very high, compared to the state average or the City and County of Honolulu average,” said Caldwell.
“You’ve got to think about it that first responders go into situations that the average member of the community does not go into,” said Captain Jeffrey Roache, Honolulu Fire Department’s public information officer.
Roache adds that 27 Honolulu firefighters and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. They currently have one staff member who is actively in isolation.
Roache says the stations are making sure that firefighters have all the necessary equipment ready, along with the information they need before responding to an emergency. He said they are up-to-date and complying with all Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recommendations.
“We definitely are keeping our guard up and not taking anything for granted,” said Roache. “We’re going into this holiday season prepared, not just mentally, but you know just with our equipment and you know how we do things and our processes, our procedures.”
He said dispatch will also be ensuring the safety of firefighters on the field.
“To my knowledge, they’re being as thorough as they can be already. They’re asking the appropriate questions. They’re making sure that if it is a possible COVID-related call, that they make sure they put those in the notes, so that whatever Fire Company is being dispatched to the scene, they have that pertinent information and they can take appropriate measures.”Capt. Jeffrey Roache, Honolulu Fire Department Public Information Officer
However, the Honolulu Fire Department is also asking people to do their part by taking precautions when first responders are called out.
HFD is asking that people wear a mask and social distance when interacting with first responders. He also asks that people wait for a first responder to approach them at a safe distance, rather than rushing up to them and accidentally getting too close. HFD is also asking the public to minimize the number of people at the scene.
“And that’ll keep everybody safe, not just the family members, not the immediate people, but our first responders as well, or firefighters. If you can do that, that will definitely go a long way,” said Roache.
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