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Cranston Fire Department adds two rescues to its fleet to keep up with COVID-19 calls


CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Cranston Fire Department is putting an additional two ambulances in service full-time to keep up with the number of calls while properly sanitizing equipment between runs.

The department is now working with six full-time rescues, rather than the four that are usually always in service, according to Scott Robinson, president of the Cranston Firefighters Union Local 1363.

“Since Feb. 1, our run volumes increased 125 runs from last year when this was just getting started,” Robinson said. “What’s happening now is historic.”

Robinson said because of the pandemic, having the additional ambulances in service full-time will improve operations all around. He said by adding two rescues, there are more resources available to serve the community. It also helps lift a burden on the crews responding.

“It’s going to increase time on scene to screen patients for the disease, rather than rush and get back into service,” Robinson said. “It’s going to give us time to decontaminate the rescues…It’s going to help combat that mental and physical fatigue that the firefighters in the EMS division are facing.”

Cranston Mayor Alan Fung said the department made this possible by reshuffling firefighters. He said having the additional rescues in service will not cost the taxpayer.

“I really appreciate the men and women of our fire department being concerned for all of our residents, especially during this time,” Fung said.

Robinson stressed that firefighters shouldn’t be exposed to the disease because someone failed to properly report their symptoms. He said it’s important to be honest with the dispatcher should you find yourself in that situation.

In a crucial time like this, Robinson said the city can’t afford to have firefighters in self-quarantine. However, they have plans in case someone is exposed to a positive patient.

Robinson hopes the two extra full-time rescues will make a difference throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“That’s a lot of stress on somebody – when you walk into a house and you have no idea what you’re walking out with,” he said. “By having those two additional rescues, we should be able to decrease the amount of run volume that those four full-time rescues already have.”

Firefighters in Cranston currently wear masks to every EMS call as a precaution, but department leaders are currently looking for more options as the supply shrinks.

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