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South Carroll: Winfield fire department takes steps to reduce risk, kept serving during coronavirus pandemic

Portable hand-washing stations are located at several of the Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department station’s entry points.
Portable hand-washing stations are located at several of the Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department station’s entry points.

The Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department is taking actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic to protect first responders and patients.

The actions taken at the Winfield fire company are similar to actions being taken countywide during the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

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Chief Mark E. Davis, of the Winfield fire department said in an email that the fire department is following the state protocols established by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS).

Davis also emphasized that the expectations and protocols change constantly as the pandemic continues to grow in the state.

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“These changes are important as they do represent best practices, but they also require daily engagement by all emergency responders … which can present a challenge in a combination volunteer/paid system like Winfield’s,” he said. “Our folks have to monitor the daily notices closely to see what might have changed since the day before.”

According to Davis, the first responders at the fire department have always worn gloves, but because of the pandemic, in addition to the gloves, they have to wear surgical masks and eye protection on every EMS call and with every patient encounter.

He also added that when the crews receive information that the patient may have flu-like symptoms or confirmed COVID-19 exposure, then the level of protective equipment use is increased to an N95 mask, a protective gown or a Tyvek suit, and eye protection.

Unfortunately, Davis said the supply of N95 masks and surgical masks is limited, so responders have to be careful about exhausting the supply.

“We are hopeful to receive more supplies in the coming days, but the outlook is slim at this point,” Davis added.

In addition, Davis said the fire department has the following three important guiding principles regarding COVID-19 exposure during the crisis: “to protect our responders (meaning protective equipment and processes), protect our membership (meaning those folks who support our operation but do not calls), and protect the public.”

“If we meet the first two principles, then protecting the public occurs by default. If we cannot protect our responders, then we cannot protect the public … we will have no one to respond,” Davis said.

The fire department has implemented other actions to protect the living quarters. Davis said they are limiting public access, limiting the number of members gathering at one time, and implementing more strict hygiene and disinfection processes.

“To say that the current COVID-19 situation presents a real challenge to local volunteer fire departments is a real understatement,” Davis said.

He also added that the fire department has at least three paid staffers working at any hour of any day, and they provide staffing for fire and EMS apparatus.

He also emphasized that they depend on their volunteer members to provide the remaining staffing on all of the calls.

“Like many local departments, our number of volunteer responders has declined in recent times, which now only places further strain on our available response force,” Davis said. “However, we are committed to provide the best service possible given the available resources. This COVID-19 outbreak is like nothing we have seen in our lifetime … we will get through it … but not without everyone’s help.”

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For more information, you may contact the fire department at 410-795-1333.

The Winfield fire department is located at 1320 W. Old Liberty Road.

Calvary Lutheran Church services online

Good news to those who would like to hear the “Word of God” at home. The Calvary Lutheran Church is taping the worship services ahead of time, and they are broadcasting them on YouTube.

Every Sunday morning, the church is broadcasting the services via an emailed link and YouTube, along with the order of worship, so people can participate at home.

People with no computers can also obtain the service on DVD. The church will mail it along with a printed version of the order of worship.

Also, if you feel you are in need of prayer, any other spiritual need, or even someone who can help run errands or shopping, the church has assembled a group of over 20 “Caring Callers,” to find ways to help those in need.

For more information, you may contact the church at 410-489-5280 or visit their Facebook or Twitter accounts for updates.

Calvary Lutheran Church is located at 16151 Old Frederick Road in Mount Airy.

Sharina Taveras Lopez covers Eldersburg, Sykesville, Mount Airy, Winfield, Taylorsville and neighboring communities. Reach her at st008@connections.mcdaniel.edu.

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