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Newport Beach

Volume 5, Issue 77  |  September 25, 2020

Guest Letter

Jeff Boyles

Fire department and Orange County partners stand ready

IGuest Letter Jeff Boyles

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Courtesy of NBFD

Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles

The Newport Beach Fire Department (NBFD) has been adapting to the ever-changing information regarding COVID-19 for the past couple of months. We have made adjustments to our 9-1-1 call taking producers through our dispatch center giving our first responders ample information regarding patient care prior to their arrival. 

We have identified our supply of masks, eyewear and gowns to wear when providing patient care and have trained our personnel with the latest medical best practices. We have strengthened our policies regarding first responder patient contact in order to minimize potential spread of the virus.

Last week our EMS Division developed training plans and best practices to communicate with seven of our skilled nursing facilities and convalescent care homes. We have found in communities such as Kirkland, Washington that staff within skilled nursing facilities and convalescent homes can inadvertently spread the virus within the facilities thus resulting in multiple deaths. We sent our NBFD Firefighters and Paramedics to seven facilities to ensure they are utilizing proper sanitary methods and prepared to work seamlessly with our personnel as we respond to provide care for their patients. 

We have been watching predictive models and planning for various scenarios including overwhelmed hospitals, overtaxed EMS resources and even a limited workforce if they were to become infected. 

Education for our employees and the community has been paramount. The information and orders change rapidly thus changing our approach. 

The Orange County Public Health Department issued a memo on Friday, March 20, 2020 that we are moving away from containment to a mitigation strategy. In short, that means we were attempting to locate, test and isolate people based on travel and high risk potential for infection. We have recognized that community transmission is now here, and simply mitigating the spread is medically our best approach now.

We have opened our City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and are planning for ways to help our senior citizens, disabled persons and homeless population. Vulnerable segments of the population present unique challenges to our services. 

Our firefighters, paramedics and lifeguards stand ready to provide education, protection and service throughout this pandemic. 

We are fully staffed and preparing each day to stay out in front of this moving target. The California Fire Service in general is very well prepared to meet the challenges of a crisis with our mutual and automatic aid systems, relationships with base hospitals and highly trained and skilled workforce. 

I may be biased in thinking that Orange County is the most prepared of all with our system of dispatching, paramedic response and local hospitals.

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