City of Plantation Podcast

Episode 10 - Voices of First Responders - Firefighters and Paramedics

May 15, 2020 City of Plantation Episode 10
City of Plantation Podcast
Episode 10 - Voices of First Responders - Firefighters and Paramedics
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the City of Plantation Podcast. In this Episode, Chief Gordon and I speak with firefighters and Paramedics from the Plantation Fire Department. We wanted to know and share with the residents of Plantation, how our first responders are coping with the changes that have occurred with their jobs, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. This Podcast is aimed at keeping the residents of Plantation informed regarding how the City and its various Departments are responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please subscribe to this podcast, as we will be producing new episodes on a regular basis.

Guests: FF Chris Mueller and Kevin Dove, Paramedic Paul Lucas and EMT Mark DeWalt
Hosts: Deputy Chief Joel Gordon / Acting Division Chief Ezra Lubow
Produced by: Ezra Lubow
Music: Oakwood Station - Summer Breeze Memories
Cover Art: The City of Plantation


Speaker 1:

Hello plantation. Welcome to the city of plantations podcast. I'm dr Jay formerly with plantation information radio. Thank you for tuning in. We hope the information provided within the episodes of this podcast help keep you your family and your friends safe during this pandemic. So continuing with our voices of first responders episode, I want to welcome to plantation volunteer firefighters, Kevin dove and Chris Mueller. Kevin , both Kevin and Chris are military personnel as well. Kevin is currently active with the us coast guard and Chris is a retired Colonel from the U S army. Uh , so gentlemen, welcome. Thank you for being here. Thanks for having us. Thanks chief. Uh, you know, I want to start off with , uh, most people in this area don't really understand the concept of being a volunteer firefighter. Uh, you know, every community has firefighters, but they think of them as, you know, they're , they're professionals or career level. When you get out of South Florida and you go into more rural areas, volunteers become more common. What is it like, or what is it about being a volunteer firefighter, particularly in plantation that's so special? I would say , uh, being a volunteer is a , it's a way of life. And that sounds kind of trite to say, but it, it actually is because unlike a full time professional firefighter that's going to have a set schedule to work a volunteer , uh, you're working when you can and it could be any hours of the day so it actually becomes part of your life. You come home from work, you have your pager on a, if a call comes in, you may be in the middle of dinner and put that aside to go run a call. Uh , if you wind up having to do travel for work, you may not be able to do calls for several days. So it actually becomes an integral part of your life, not just for you as a firefighter, but your , for your family as well. Um, so when we joined the fire department, we're joining not necessarily just as an individual, but as a family unit because they have to be supportive and behind us , uh, during our time with the department,

Speaker 2:

it really is a lifestyle and that lifestyle is a , your family is involved. The people that you know are involved. And it becomes, we are essentially one big family here. And with, when it comes down to it, I can call Chris and be like, Hey Chris, I need help with this. And he's going to come right over. He'll call me and say, I need help with this. We'll figure it out. Wherever the problem is. And it's more of a family. It's a lifestyle more than just a

Speaker 1:

running the fire calls. So I mean , a career firefighter, and not to degrade the job of a career firefighter because it's, you know, it's incredible. But it's a job. It's a career. They get a paycheck , uh , here in plantation. It's your life. Like you guys said, it's part of the family family affair. It's a family event. It's a community wide event, right? Absolutely. And I think I'm in for a career firefighter. They may or may not live in the city in which they work

Speaker 3:

for us. It's a requirement for obvious reasons. We have to be close to the fire station. So we're all plantation residents aside from just being firefighters. So we're, we're serving our neighbors. Uh , we're serving our other family and friends in the plantation community.

Speaker 2:

I've been a volunteer firefighter since 2004, and this will be my fourth department because of the military. We have to move around every couple of years. So I usually work my way up starting from a new guy right at the beginning, working my way up through the, through the ranks and then I got to move again. And this is a different atmosphere cause most of the other departments are more rural. Like you said, 70% of the fire departments in the United States are volunteer. And that is because, you know , there's not a lot of money in those areas with the , uh , this area is more affluent, but it, it keeps that heritage of having the volunteer fire department and being more urban. It's, it's definitely a unique type situation where most urban environments immediately go to a full time staff. But this one has been able to hang on. And I think because of the family coordination and everybody being involved the way we are, that's the really the way that we've been able to keep a volunteer, a very successful volunteer fire department.

Speaker 4:

So I'm going to throw this one out to both of you. And you may have touched on it already, but yeah. And you said you , you've been a volunteer before and other departments , um , and Chris, I don't know if you have also,

Speaker 3:

so this is my fourth department. I actually started as a volunteer before I entered the military back in the eighties. So , um , I've had experiences in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California and Florida. And uh , since I'm now retired, this is my fourth and final department I'll be a member of. And I would say that I actually chose the city of plantation when I was retiring from the army last year , uh, as the place I wanted to permanently relocate to because of the fact that we have the largest volunteer department in the state of Florida. Uh , I purposely bought a house here with the hopes of becoming a member. Uh, and you know, I can , uh, uh, commiserate with Kevin cause I understand what it's like to , uh, to move around every couple of years and you join a department and you gain a reputation and then because of military orders you , you have to move to a new duty station and you wind up leaving your friends and you may or may not be able to come back later on down, down your career. Uh, for me, since I was retiring, I'm able to settle down here, become a member and stay , uh , with the department longterm .

Speaker 4:

So for both of you then, what is it about being a volunteer firefighter that's so special? I mean, you've obviously both made decisions to make commitments to being in places where there's volunteer fire departments. Why, what is it that's so attractive about it?

Speaker 2:

I think the , the main attraction when you first start out is, you know, getting on the truck, going to a call, there's a house fire fully involved and it's the adrenaline rush. That's when you, when you first start out, that's pretty much what it is. But after a while it starts to change. It starts, the feeling starts to change for you and being able to to, we always say, yeah, I want to help people and I always want, I , I've always wanted to be a firefighter. My parents were firefighters, so that was like a natural segue for me and getting into it, getting started in it. That was kind of that, that rush, Hey, I'm filling my family's shoes. I'm kind of, you know , moving up in the family business if you, if you could say, but I think once you move up, it's kind of like, okay, now I , I see myself being able to make improvements in the system, the training, the way the truck gets on the road, and there's other levels and other layers of it that really you can start to peel back once you move up and get more experience . And it's not just the thrill of getting down the highway real quick to put out a fire that that is still part of the gig, but there's more to it now. There's more meaning, there's more satisfaction to it. When you, when you can see that the firefighter that you brought all the way through training and now they're backing you up on a line or they're on the line and you're backing them up. You know what man, this guy is doing really good. So there's, there's other levels of it that it's as a growth is a maturity level to it , that it's special.

Speaker 5:

And how far of a stretch is it? I mean, thinking about it, right? The difference between the military and that family unit that everybody getting together to get the job done, the work hard, play hard. I mean those are all very similar attitudes to the fire service. So it is somewhat of a natural transition for the culture. Maybe not necessarily the technical aspect. Right. But the culture is very, very similar.

Speaker 3:

Sure. Absolutely. The , the fire service is a paramilitary organization. There's a rank structure , uh , teamwork cohesion. You know, the sense that, you know, you're in it for the good of the unit, not the individual. So there were a lot of direct aspects that translate over from the military to the fire service. For me , uh, the thing that's most attractive is the sense of service. Um, which obviously the military, you have a sense of service but it's service to the nation. Whereas being a volunteer, it's a service to the local community. And obviously, you know, in 29 years in the army, I didn't know everybody I served in the United States, but here in plantation I'm actually serving people. I know the longer I spend here, the chances are I'll actually go on calls where I'm actually helping people that I actually personally know. And that's a great aspect to be able to , uh, to , to have that satisfaction of helping a neighbor. And you know, the other part about the military that I liked was the fact that it was a bigger picture. However, I would work on projects in the military that might take years to come to fruition and I may start something and never actually see it finish. Here's a volunteer. You go on the call and you, you solve the problem right then and there. So there's instant satisfaction and an instant sense that you've actually been able to make a difference. Right? You want to jump in , right ?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. He comes back to the , the , the service aspect of it. But for me, I would say it's, it's the esprit de Corps. It's the gathering of , uh, of all the same likeminded people and the friends that you make and then the connections that you make. I've made more connections that helped my, my professional side and my volunteer side. They're so closely related with the coast guard and the fire service that there's people that I've met , um , through the fire service that have helped the coast guard out and vice versa. There's people that they're so closely related that the interactions that I've met people from Palm beach and Broward County that have helped people in Miami Dade County and vice versa. And so it's just one big network of people that, that the interactions are limitless. It's really just depends on how busy you want to get.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, absolutely. So taking all these things into consideration, how has this covert epidemic changed your perception of this function? This job?

Speaker 3:

I think the current situation in the pandemic is heightened our awareness to obvious obviously health concerns. Uh, we've have increased precautions we're taking. Um, and I would say I think longterm this pandemic is going to do to the fire service and the emergency services community and the local community much in the same way that that nine 11 had changed the security aspects of the United States. I don't think we'll ever return back to the way things were before the pandemic. I think certain procedures that we've enacted in the fire department , uh, will continue , uh, as far as patient treatment and , and distancing and not taking unnecessary risks. So in some respects, I think we're going to come out of this , um, better than we were before and we won't return to the, you know, pre pandemic days, much like life has changed for us after September 11th. It was very painful at first, you know, going to the airport and, and, and increased wait times. But once, you know, we establish a whole new agency in the federal government, TSA , um, and it took a while to gotta get things to run routinely. But now that they do, I don't think we'd ever think of ever going back to the days before where you could walk up to a gate and greet a family member coming off a plane. Those those days are gone. So I think there's a lot we've learned from this. We've learned the hard way and it's been very costly in terms of lives. But , um, I think we're going to come out better in the long run.

Speaker 2:

The after action reports are going to be , uh , very interesting to see where departments had shortcomings with supplies, staffing, you know, everybody was expecting, Hey, the hospitals are going to get inundated. But now, I mean, we've got volunteers here that are being laid off that don't have work .

Speaker 5:

There's hospitals literally out there who that are empty. Right ? And that was a conversation with earlier with the medical directors on a webinar for Broward, where the doctors are saying, I've got hospitals that have been empty for three days straight. No one's coming to the hospitals. They're afraid to be in the hospital. So I think you guys are right. I mean, I think right. Supply chain logistics. Those are all big things that we're going to look at as a department and that I know most every other department in the country are going to look at. And I'm sure the federal government taking a look at the stockpile and all those things. So yeah, I think those are very good points.

Speaker 2:

Well , when it comes down to the factors also regarding our members, just the volunteers here, they've all got some other job that puts food on the table. And if, you know, we've got several people that are saying, Hey, I , I don't have any work right now. You know, they're making a lot of fire calls, but that's because they're not going to a day job. But then I'm sure they would like to go to their day job to put food on the table, but that's going to come down to issues with our staffing and saying, Hey, if there is some kind of economic detriment such as this, where everything happens or something in the future, something else were to happen. What kind of instances are we still gonna maintain our workforce? Um, safely and health, you know, health wise, but with their being able to feed their families and then keep them as a volunteer here,

Speaker 5:

which I think we forget, right? I mean we see our guys show up, we see them show up for calls where she em show up for training. Um, we're doing a lot of distance meetings and virtual training and stuff like that. But I think what we don't see unless we hear about it firsthand is how many of our members are out of work in their primary jobs. Right? I mean, military, you're not getting laid off

Speaker 2:

Jordan kind of recession,

Speaker 5:

but you know , um, so, but that's a very good point, right? We've got to look at that.

Speaker 1:

So I guess that that almost leads just kind of to our next question, which is we know that firefighting is a dangerous job. We prepare for it, we train for it. We make sure we have the right equipment to protect ourselves. But this is different and we hear it all the time. This is different. This is unprecedented. What precautions do we find ourselves taking in ? What are we doing differently now to protect ourselves and we've done before? Well , we've taken social distancing and the department to , um , I won't say it to the extreme cause that has a negative connotation, but we've, we have a heightened sense of social distancing here. We obviously have , uh , increased use of PPE when we otherwise wouldn't not have normally used that. So I think we've done the same things that we've seen on the civilian side of the community, but obviously , uh, to a much greater degree because we're going to places that have folks that are most likely , uh, or have a higher chances of , of having coven .

Speaker 2:

I think too, when you see the development of technology and the fire service, they say, okay, what, what is the, the main threat at the moment? You know, we had three quarter boots, we had long jackets, we had SCBA, you know, you watch backdraft, they're not buckled up. You know, they got, you know, they're , they're heroes, you know ,

Speaker 1:

wait, wait, wait. We, you guys don't know from that. I know from that, I know from hip boots and long coats and saw it on TV once I saw it on TV. Yeah. Right on the history channel. Saw some emergency reruns of emergency. I'm pretty sure there's some

Speaker 2:

pictures on the wall, the in the hallway upstairs that you might've been on. But those, you know, those, those, those features, you know, board. Thank you very much. Yeah. I think the technology was developed in response to, Hey, we can't ride tailboard anymore. Why people are falling off a kickoff. We need better SEBS . Why do we need better CPAs ? But that that development procedures , that process have happened over a long period of time. This all of a sudden hit us and said, Hey, we need to protect our people and we want to take these precautions to protect our people. But it's like, what is the best way at the moment? Well, what do we have that can protect everybody from an airborne thing? And we think, okay, smoke SCBA we'll just put it on everybody on SCBA . But that's obviously, that's not a realistic expectation for everybody to be walking around on SCBA all the time. So you have to scale it up. We tried to scale it up as much as we can. You know, ideally you'd have a full hazmat suit anytime you went anywhere, but that's just not practical. So what is the level and that's what we have to find out. What is the correct level of PPE for what you're trying to get into?

Speaker 1:

It's interesting because right now like the mass, the end 95 is like the mask of choice in, in, in a time of scarcity of masks. Somebody that has an [inaudible] kind of, you know, highly sought after the bar. It's kind of like, you know, after the war broke out the second war in Iraq when world war II, sorry, no , no , no , I'm not that old. And you go back and you look at when they, the, the IETS were being used against the United States. At that time, all we had were Humvees. They weren't armored. So what we wind up doing, we slapped armor on the Humvee shift. Right. Sometimes it absolutely, it was, you know, the Sergeant in the motor pool w welding on , uh , armored plates, right . Until eventually there was a development of a whole line of various armored vehicles that we now use , uh, you know, widely now without an Emirate. Exactly. Uh , M wraps , greyhounds. We didn't have these when I came into the army. Now it's a whole different fleet. I think we'll see the same thing now where, you know, it won't be an end 95, there'll be a whole array of different types of masks and it'll probably be common that we'll get off wearing a mask regardless of the call. Um , because of the heightened sense of , uh , of concern moving forward. We're doing that now.

Speaker 5:

We have UV boxes that we had, you know, our utilities department or not our utilities, our public works department build for us, you know, makeshift, you know, to specifications as identified by OSHA and you know, down to the numbers. But right. As a way to try and maintain RPE and , and keep its longevity and keep its use . So. Absolutely. That's a great point.

Speaker 2:

You're going to see some , some huge technology changes, not even just disinfectants, but it's , it's just going to take time. And as of right now, it's challenging getting the supplies, making sure people where the supplies, the PPE , cause it's a culture change. People don't, people don't want to wear a mask. You know, people don't remember this , but if you look at , uh , you know, I spent some time in Korea, that's, that's a natural way of, that's the way of life . And I think going forward it will become a way of life, but it's going to take time. It'll take a generation or two, but then you'll see that, you know, it's , it's going to change.

Speaker 4:

Right. Well, you know, I think it's interesting because it two evolutions and you talk about the progression and the evolutions in the industry. Uh, and me being the old dog in the room , uh, go back to pre , um, HIV break outbreak when you didn't, we didn't wear gloves. And you know, the only time you put on gloves was when something was really nasty and you lucked into the ER covered in blood. That was a badge of honor. Uh, nowadays you'd lose your mind over that. And it's really the same thing on the, on the suppression side where at one time if your helmet wasn't covered in soot , you weren't a firefighter. You were like the only guy on the football team with the white Jersey, you know, and now they look at a suit covered helmet and it's disgusting and it's not tolerated. So I think this too will be part of the evolution.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Agreed . All right , so you guys were around, I mean, you mentioned the second war and obviously you guys were around for nine 11, so after nine, 11, right? First responders, whether it be law enforcement or fire rescue, EMS, right, held this heroes, the country kind of laid out the red carpet for us. Um, do you see that same type of effect occurring during this pandemic?

Speaker 2:

I see the same thing. Same thing for that . You know, they're saying frontline EMS or frontline healthcare workers , uh , you, you kind of see it. Everybody's supportive verbally, but you know, it's not like, Hey, let me give this guy a hug right now. You're not, you're not seeing so much of that shake this guy's hand because, you know, he's, he's , uh , it could be an aid at a nursing home and that's, that's a big important job. And everybody's like, Hey, I support you. I , I'm , I'm feeling for you, but they're not gonna come up and shake your hand. Right . You know, so I , I think the support is there. You might get an error. Yeah . A fist bump or a, you know, a shoulder bump or something like that, but it's going to stay, you know, it's going to be hard to really see that expression of emotion the same way we've seen it for military coming back from the, you know, in the airport and you see people stand up, you know, that's, that's always an emotional event. It's, it's, the support is there, but it's going to be displayed differently I think.

Speaker 5:

And I think that that's a good point too, because during nine, 11, I remember, you know, after the event and after everything occurred in the rescues took place in the salvage took place, there was a lot of celebration for first responders. And obviously it was tragic. We lost more in one single day than ever in the history of our country. But a lot of people had to remind the country that, Hey, there are a lot of people who expired in those buildings who are janitors , office workers. Uh , there were a lot of people on the streets who were selling hotdogs , who you grabbed a napkin, put it over their face, and we're running into debris to try and save people. So there are a lot of heroes, right? It just seems that the first responders kind of are always in the limelight and we forget about the actual heroes. And you mentioned the AIDS at nursing homes and not , and I'm going to say probably the most overlooked class are the individuals who are keeping hospitals clean and keeping medical facilities clean. They're the highest rate of infection in healthcare industry because they're exposed to it. Right. Would you guys agree with that?

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And I think one of the neat things as you talk about all of the other folks that are having an impact, I guess one of the positives out of this whole pandemic in the United States is the , is the conversion we've seen of different industries to provide products, whether it be hand sanitizer or respirators. We haven't seen that kind of mobilization since the second world war, which Kevin beds part of Joel might have been missed that. But in all seriousness that that kind of shows the commitment that our country has and how we can come together and , and, and change on a dime, so to speak, and how we're capable of doing the things that for so many years we shipped out to somewhere else. Absolutely. Yeah . Well, you know, and, and Kevin, I think he made a great point too about the value of underrated workers. I think one of the things that this issue has done for us is it's put recognition not just on the first responders, but as you said, the AIDS in the nursing homes. Um, the , the housekeeping in the hospitals, but what about the , um, the restaurant workers and the servers and the delivery people who've really been a lifeline for everybody throughout all this?

Speaker 2:

I think those, the recognition, you know, before I think it was with the, with the essential workers, meaning people that have to go to work to provide services for everybody else, mechanics, fast food workers. I think previously those, those jobs were considered, Hey, I don't want to do that. You know, I want to go to college. I want to , um, you know, go into business or accounting or something to that effect. And if I don't go to college, it's going to be the end of, of me. And I think this has kind of opened a lot of people's eyes to the fact that vocational jobs are, are more important or if just not, or as important as, you know, Hey, I got a college degree, let me go out and find some work, but I can't, I can't turn a wrench or I can't , you know, fry up some food. But, you know, cooks, cooks are , are fantastic. Um, mechanics, they're all important. You know, it's, it's people we're going gonna see that just because they're like, Oh, well you're just a cook. It's like, well, no, you're , you provide a vital link in the whole community economy and life cycle that even , even firefighting, you know, people think, Oh, that's a blue collar job for sure. And they're going to see , Hey, you know, I can, you know, I can do this job and it's, you know , provides money for my family and food on the table. But it also provides, you know , a sense of security too. So it's not just, it's, you're going to see, I think that shift, that paradigm shift of you've already started to see it with , um , you know, people pushing more vocational jobs and I think you're going to see it even more.

Speaker 3:

Yup . In my civilian job, in my new chapter, after retiring from the military, I worked for a large infrastructure construction company. We do electric, gas, oil and fiber optic communications. And I thought initially when, when the pandemic hit , uh , it was going to cause a lot of the workforce to get scared off, not want to come to work. Um, and it, it was quite the opposite. Uh, we are , uh , we've been declared by Homeland security as a mission critical , uh, company , um , because we provide infrastructure , uh , for our nation and we are a nationwide company. Uh, our folks are as dedicated as any soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that I've worked with before. Um, in fact , uh, one of my toughest jobs is reminding them about the social distancing and the PPE and taking all the precautions because they want to charge on and continue to provide those services cause they realize that that is, that is something that's necessary to keep our country running. And , uh, so it's interesting that I thought leaving the military, I would never see folks as dedicated as I serve with, but I continue to serve in my civilian capacity with folks that are equally as dedicated to providing for our local communities. Yeah .

Speaker 1:

All right . So let's , um, let's kind of wrap this up and I'm going to ask you the same question that we asked the , uh, the police officers who were in here earlier and that is that if you had the opportunity to speak directly to the residents , which , which in fact you are doing, what's the one thing or what would you say to them that would help make that they can do that would help make your job easier?

Speaker 2:

I would say the main thing that people can do is they need to be able to help each other. And I see sometimes too when when you see a lot of the social distancing you say, Hey I don't , I'm not going to help that guy cause you know, I don't want to get near him. I don't want to expose myself. But you know, if, if somebody needs help financially, emotionally reach out to them , help them and cause there's more than just, you know, physically helping somebody that fell down in the grocery store or something like that. It's maybe your neighbor is lonely and they just need somebody to talk to. Call them on the phone, talk to them, help each other out in this , this time because there's a lot of people that are having a lot of issues. There's a lot of people that are losing their jobs. Um, they're fighting with their spouses and they're , they're having a hard time just maybe emotionally, maybe financially, but not just, you know , physically we think, how can we help? Hey, there's a house fire or there's a medical emergency. You know, we can all help with that. But at the same time there's the underlying things to , um, being able to just say, Hey, are you okay ? Just maybe keep, keep an eye on each other and that , that's, that's what I would say is keep an eye on each other. Check on each other and what , what can you do? And that that'll us, you know, a

Speaker 1:

long way too . Cause I think a lot of that, a lot of our problems that come from physical trauma, fires, things like that stems from a community not being connected. Right.

Speaker 3:

I would say aside from the obvious of, you know, when possible stay home and maintain a appropriate social distancing as you're looking for new activities to do and things with the family. Um, as you kind of remain an isolation, make sure you take the appropriate precautions, especially when you're doing things you're not maybe accustomed to doing. Maybe you're riding bikes more often than than than you normally were before. Or maybe you're going to have a bonfire out in the backyard or a campfire or you're going to start cooking at home and maybe you're not, you know,

Speaker 1:

you didn't suggest that bonfire as a firefighter here in plantation.

Speaker 3:

No, no I didn't. I meant I meant campfire or a fire pit, whatever . Yeah , whatever appropriate mechanisms to you . Uh, and I bring those up cause we've had a couple of those calls that we may not have had otherwise. And so , uh, you know, I would recommend to our, our constituents, our community here in plantation and elsewhere in Broward, you know, be extra careful. I've noticed that there's obviously a lot less traffic on the road, but it seems that we're getting as many if not more traffic accidents than normal. Cause I think people are taking advantage of the opportunity to, Hey, there's no traffic on five 95 or the turnpike or Broward Boulevard. So Hey, I can go a little quicker than normal. And uh, so we seem to be having just my personal perception , um, some, some bad accidents. So, so be careful out there as you, you explore new activities and this uh, this new norm that we now live in,

Speaker 5:

right? Yeah. We've, we've consistently said on this podcast that, you know, our , our message on top of the really great ones that you guys just put forward is , uh , along the same lines, just be patient with each other. Everybody's got anxiety. And like you mentioned Kevin, nurse people out of work, there's people who are home all day with their kids, which they are not accustomed to doing, right? Kids are in school, so they're having to relearn some parenting skills. Patient levels are getting thin, right? So we tell people, take a deep breath, have patience with your neighbor, you know, have some empathy. Uh , and I think, you know , that's , that's a good message.

Speaker 1:

Well gentlemen, I want to thank you both for giving us the time. I think it's kind of amazing we got through this without you having to run out for a call. Um , so that's terrific. I do want to thank the both of you for your service to the country as well as the community. And I just want to mention, I don't think we've mentioned it yet on the podcast that our own medicine man, chief LeBeau also served in the coast guard. So I'm the only guy here that hasn't and I'm kind of the outlier in this, but all three of you, thank you for your service to the nation, to the community and thank you for what you do every day. Thanks doll . Thank you for support. Thank you very much. In this segment of voices of first responders. We're talking with our EMS folks and today we have with us paramedic Paul Lucas and EMT marked a Walt

Speaker 4:

and we're going to talk about their perceptions of dealing with the coven virus and how it's impacted the way they do their job. One of the unique things we have here is EMT de Walt actually serves on the COBIT response truck that we've put out to manage COPD patients. Uh, and and so is Paul. Okay , I didn't know that. I'm sorry about that but that's good. So now we got both of you from the covert truck. Gentlemen, thank you for being here. Appreciate your time. And you know, one of the things that we need to keep in mind is that the truck itself is in service and Mark is in service right now. He's actually on the truck today. So if there's a little disturbance in the room it's cause we probably got a call and Mark had to run, but we'll figure our way through it anyway. So let's start off with a simple question and that is how has the pandemic changed your work environment? You know , and a couple of things to think about when you answer that. How do you prepare for a shift? What do you think about when you're preparing? What do you tell your families and what do they think about what you're doing and what's happening? So maybe

Speaker 6:

so. Uh, yeah. Um, basically when I come to the shift I definitely changed a bunch of things. Uh , one of the things I changes, I don't come in my work boots, my work stay at work. I have two pairs of boots, I have one boot set of boots, go on calls and the other boots are after the call. Then I have my station shoes. So I've uh , definitely adapted to not trying to not bring anything home from work and vice versa. Basically beginning of the shift, just we make sure we clean the truck very good. And you know, other than that, not much is different. Everything is the same as far as shifts change. We try to do is bring additional uniforms that we didn't necessarily bring in the past. We always bought at least two sets, but how we maybe two, three, maybe four sets of bringing about nine, like a whole wardrobe. Yeah .

Speaker 5:

But that , but that's a good point because why do you guys specifically go through more uniforms than the other crews would?

Speaker 6:

So the suits we wear , um, Oh , they , they're our hazmat suits so they don't really breathe. Uh, and being four to a top sometimes. So we, we tend to sweat quite a bit. So usually after a call I'll shower and change after each call because I sweat that much after each call. And also in theory , um, and we do a really well job of it is we respond to the cobot calls, the calls that do come out that either have the reference or confirm Cobra costs . Um, we're guaranteed to get those calls, which again, leads to what Paul's saying, we're gonna have to take a few showers throughout the day to stay fresh. Right . Or we become the hazmat situation. Yeah. So,

Speaker 4:

so just really quickly for those that don't understand what you're talking about, and obviously there's no visuals here, so it's , it's hard to, for people to imagine it, what kind of a suit you're wearing, if you can describe it.

Speaker 6:

Uh, I think if someone to think about like painter suits where people were like with a full suits, with a hood over them and a mask , it's kind of like that . It's a , it's a pretty thick plastic material just really prevents anything coming into us.

Speaker 7:

Almost like a rain suit, right? To bond a painter suit with a rain suit covering head to toe. So is this the Tyvec suit we hear about and we talk about like the [inaudible] right now. Are those reusable or is it one time,

Speaker 6:

one time use every suit just to prevent contamination from the call to call it because we truly don't know who has it, who doesn't. And some of the facilities that we're going to has positive patients within their facility . So again, you got to take the precaution. So after each call, unfortunately we do switch into a new new suicide. I mean it's not unfortunate. It's just,

Speaker 7:

yeah, it's just the way it is. Right. And to go off what you're saying now , the chief chief Gordon in reference to our families, that's one of the things I reassure my family, I'm sure Paul does as well, is that we have the right PPE. We're fortunate about that. The PB that is given to us is effective. And so far our numbers are telling that they are, everybody's doing well, everybody's healthy. Right . So where you're referring to Mark is the fact that today, as far as we know, we have not had any positive covert cases, not only in the city of plantation amongst the employees, but also the fire department and the police department. Correct. We were actually talking about that at the station today where we have to wear these mask at work, we have to take these precautions and then you step back and you realize it's effective. It's working. We don't have cases and we have a good status at work and we've said that before. Right. Proper precautions, a due diligence and sprinkle a little bit of luck in there. And you know, we've been doing pretty good and that's another thing we can reassure our families on is what we're doing is effective. As annoying as it might be or as fun as it might be. Right. It's effective . Right. How do your families feel about ,

Speaker 6:

uh , so, you know, of course they're, they're nervous, you know, given all the news and hype. But again, what Mark said, reassured them that we're probably the safest within the whole department. I think that's why we're running all these calls. It's because we are the most protected. Um, so there's a very low chance of us getting sick , um, and just reassuring them that we're taking the steps to make sure we're not contaminating ourselves. Um, but I still keep pretty social distance with my father. He lives in Melbourne and unfortunately I'm not able to visit him right now, but , uh, you know, they're understanding in that aspect. Right. So it breeds

Speaker 4:

a lot of credibility to the coverup and social distancing argument that we've heard so much of. Correct.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. So how has

Speaker 7:

this

Speaker 5:

virus, this pandemic, how has it affected the way you interact with the patients that you see? What has changed since before?

Speaker 7:

For what ? What I think is when we're taught in school, right? Treat every patient like they have something contagious. As time goes on, we may be lacks a little bit. This pandemic has brought that back to life. It's reassured us that listen, you were taught the proper procedures, go back to your training, utilize them, treat patients with respect, but on both ends of the spectrum, you're protecting them from you and vice versa

Speaker 5:

and vice versa. Right. How about you Paul?

Speaker 6:

So w with the suits , uh, and I'm not sure if people have seen what we look like, but it's, it can be pretty intimidating, pretty scary, especially for the patients, especially walking in their house looking like hazmat , uh, astronauts essentially. Um, and it can be really scary. And I see that a lot where we assess them in their heart rates through the roof because they're just scared, right? So it takes a lot more like trying to talk to them and calm them down, coach them. And explain why we're here and why we're being protected. Sometimes do something goofy. Total kind of great guys . Yeah .

Speaker 5:

It's not just the suits, right? I mean, what else is different about the equipment that you're utilizing on the chalk that changes the entire look of you as an EMS provider?

Speaker 6:

Well, the mask. Yeah , for sure. Um,

Speaker 7:

yeah, the respirator it , if you think of the movie back to the future, you remember when he gets out of the car, he's got a big face mask on. It scares everybody. That's who he appeared to be. Right ? The show up on the scene, especially if it's an unconscious patient in the middle of the night, maybe the family shows up, they look in the room and then we just have to reassure them that,

Speaker 5:

well, and I think that's an important point for our listeners is that the mask that the individuals who were on a special covert response struck are wearing is an air respirator mask. It's not like an in 95 or an N 100 mask. It's actually a full mask with canisters. And most people aren't accustomed to seeing that unless they're , you know, police officers are using it with riots or get , so I think it does add some intimidation factor . Right. Difficult to see your faces, military grade equipment. Right when you agreed .

Speaker 4:

Oh absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, it kind of leads into the next thing we wanted to ask you about, which is, you know, what about the emotions and here we are, you know, as we've always said for so long we get to meet people on the worst day of their lives. And so here we have somebody who's having a bad day for whatever reason that they may know that they are impacted with this, this horrible virus or they don't know, but they dial nine one one it's and in walk these two Allianz, right. You know, what ha , what kind of emotions do they show? How do you deal with that? I think you mentioned it a little bit Mark, about how you deal with it and how are your emotions balanced through all of this?

Speaker 7:

The , the emotional part of it is a fact that we're , we're there to provide help. We have a better understanding of what we're doing , um , in regards to our PPE, our look. Um, but then when you think about after the call, breaking down, trying to get the tech suit off, trying to get the mask off, trying to clean everything so we don't contaminate ourselves and then bring that contamination back to the station level and then back home. Um, to me, I think that's where my emotional level sits in is to reassure that we remained clean just because we have the suit on. If we don't properly dolphin CR or Dawn and take it off the right way, we can spread germs that way as well. So emotionally we, we think about other people first at this point that maybe we weren't before subconsciously. And adding onto that good thing about the , the masks we wear , as you can see our face, our army and our eyes pretty well. Uh , so being able to kinda give emotional expression with our eyes and kind of being calm. Um, and fortunately we have some very professional providers on this trucks that in the most critical situation, we're able to relate the calmness to the patient. Right ? Once we established that bridge, we're able to kinda calm my emotions down. Even in the most critical situation right now, one of the setbacks I think is, is off duty. Right? We all had, I played it for , for example, I play softball. Uh , some people may be musicians so people may do other things. So we don't have a vent for it . Like we used to. In some cases we're at home, we're trying to be , uh , some people call it quarantine or self distancing. Um , so we, we go home and, and that aspect has changed. We don't have a vent port like we used to.

Speaker 4:

That's okay. You don't have the ability to discharge really.

Speaker 5:

Right ? Yeah. Yeah. No, that's true. I mean when you try to explain to , uh , individuals who aren't involved in EMS or in firefighting or in law enforcement, right? They're not involved in public safety. It's hard to explain a few factors, right? One, it's hard to explain our sense of humor cause we have, we can have a slightly macabre sense of humor as , as a coping method .

Speaker 4:

That's , that's a nice way to say it. Yeah.

Speaker 5:

And additionally, you know, I think same in the military is our, our motto Connie is work hard and play hard, right. Have those things. Mark, you mentioned sports. Paul , I know you're a photographer and in photography and you know, although you can probably go out in your yard and do some of that, it's hampered right. Everything and um, you know, so we all have our things that are a little bit hampered. So I think that's a really good point. Um, let me ask you, as a, as a state, as an EMS system within this state where we prepared for this pandemic,

Speaker 6:

I would say absolutely. Uh, compared to other departments at see what we were , I think they all agree that wow plantation really has, has it together as far as this truck, the suits we wear, the respirator, the protocols that were put in place. I think, I think we are the best prepared in the County for sure. Yeah. I would second that for sure. I don't know about their country. Um, there's very little that I know in regards to factual base, but what makes me feel good as agency I work for were we hit this thing head on and we had some bumps in the beginning, but they were ironed out real quick and I feel comfortable.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean I think the huge thing, and you said it and we're , we'll probably say it a couple of times. The huge thing is, is that , um, you know, the fire chief pulled the trigger on Nicola chocking , kinda made that happen quickly. And I think that did make a big difference. Um , looking at our numbers, they're not huge compared to some of the other municipalities, but it definitely provided us with a safety mechanism, I think. And the other bigger thing is it allowed us to preserve some of our PPE as well. So , uh, yeah, I think that that was a good call.

Speaker 6:

It was , what's nice with the covert truck is this closed cab , right? So we don't, well we drive, obviously we have to transport to the hospital, but the patient is separate from a barrier. There's a barrier between the driver's section and the patient compartment. So that helps a lot.

Speaker 4:

And that may be important for people who don't really understand that. I've never been in that environment. In , in most common ambulances, there's a like a walkway or a doorway between the driver's compartment and where the patient sits. And this particular truck, as you said, there's a solid wall.

Speaker 6:

Right. And it also helps, you know, with whoever's driving can efficiently talk on the radio and calling the hospital and you get a report and all that stuff. So it's a big teamwork environment. Yeah. Yeah . Very good. All right . So

Speaker 4:

you know, if , if we can, I'm going to ask you to kind of project forward a little bit and having been through this, how do you perceive this experience is going to change the way we do things in the future and how we provide EMS in the future?

Speaker 6:

I'm sure it's, it's going to change. Uh, and already, you know , um, I'm pretty sure we're going to be wearing a mask for quite a bit long time, maybe not the full respirators, but definitely we're going to be wearing an F and 95 mass on every single call regardless of the situation. Um, and then PPE , I mean already we were practicing good PPE practice with eyeglasses, gloves and uh , you know, in that regard. But I think now we're to , I'll be wearing gowns to particular calls and I think that's not going to go away anytime soon.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. And I foresee, I mean from my perspective, I foresee cost screening that that's gonna continue for a long time. Um, maybe even forever. Uh , cause who knows from an infectious disease perspective , uh, it's a very good implementation of, you know, safety first , uh, exercise. And , um, but you're right, I think within 90 fives in a common patient , uh, several authorities within the state of Florida who are involved with DMS have out Wordly stated that their recommendation would be for all the EMS providers to be in a 95 mass for all patients or a level of mass that they are able to obtain and , and maintain stock .

Speaker 7:

So in what I see in the future also is people, like I mentioned earlier, thinking about other people putting their condition prior to arcane or in front of our condition. Um , like going to your grandparents' house for example, we would go there, love our grandparents, hug our grandparents or not. If you're sick, you want to be around the people that love you. But now with this moving to the future, you may have to take a sick day even though you could power through your shift and work through your shift, but you may have to take a sick day so you can contaminate other people.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, absolutely. I think you have to be more cognizant of that

Speaker 4:

and , and that kind of changes the perspective and training. And , and Mark you mentioned it early on about , um, how, you know, when you went through school , uh , you were always taught that everybody has something. Um, you know, and we've been taught for years and years about BSI body substance isolation, which was mostly directed at protecting ourselves. Uh , you know, and , and as we're being an educator and being a , you know, an educator , um, you know, we've always trained in that. I being coming up through my training before the days of the HIV outbreak and before the days of gloves and BSI, little bit of a different perspective, but what do you think is going to be coming down as far as training new paramedics, new EMT and ongoing training for current EMS providers?

Speaker 6:

Uh, I think a lot of the tools we use, like , um, we use different airway devices that we want to stay away from right now would just say air supplies or their room. And I think that's a lot of protocols are gonna change based off that, you know, different devices we use that can actually , um, inhibit the spread of more germs and viruses and stuff like that. I feel like that's going to be some big changes coming up and,

Speaker 7:

and I think in , in a training level, actually wearing your equipment in class, you know, in other words. So we don't run out of our gloves , you know? Okay , well you have your gloves on. Well, no, let's go. Let's start putting them on, wear them, get comfortable, get used to them how to function in the gear. Right . Get confident . Absolutely.

Speaker 5:

Because that's been taught, I mean, in EMS education that's been touch and go. There's um, when I went through school, which is a while ago , uh, we didn't have gloves to wear in the classroom setting or the lab setting. Now if we went to do our hospital time or a ride times, we did always correct. But it's a great point because you should train like you're going to behave, right ? Correct. That's how you ingrain it and see , develop your habits. Yeah. And wearing masks, I'm sure just about everybody, whether they're in EMS or a first response or even most of our residents now understand what wearing a mask is like longterm . Right. How that feels. And it's definitely not good for the mustache. So , um, how, how can our listeners help you guys to do a better job at what you're doing out there?

Speaker 7:

Well, that , that's a tough one because again, we respond some of their darkest times of , I would say two to try to use, I want to say common sense, but to understand that you called us, right? So we want you to cooperate with us because we're here for you. We're here for the best of your, your best interest . So , um, if we're taking a little bit too long to get there because we have to put the Devic suit on, right ? We have to Doner mask , uh, we , our communication may be inhibited a little bit wearing a mask . So just to be a little bit more patient, I would say , um, but also have accurate information for us.

Speaker 5:

Right. And that's, I'm glad that you mentioned that because that's been an ongoing theme for us, which is, you know, just let us know, right. Be forthcoming and upfront with us. Uh, not so much for you guys because by the time you guys are dispatched in that specialty covert unit, you're already fully prepared. But for our other units , um, there may be a change in the level of protection that they're going to utilize based on the information that dispatch is receiving. So if the callers aren't forthcoming in the beginning, then that that could present some challenges for us

Speaker 7:

because we honestly don't care. Like we'd rather know if you have covert , if you have, sure close is , it doesn't matter what we were prepared, but just let us know so we can do it efficiently.

Speaker 4:

And maybe that's a good point to bring out because we did recently change one of our procedures when a, when an in an unknown reference or someone who's not known to have covert and the crew shows up and suddenly we figure it out that there's going to be a little disruption in service. May want to explain that to the listeners. What's going to happen?

Speaker 7:

Well in a situation like that, the members that don't have their , uh, maybe gowns on correct. Or maybe their trauma sleeves, which leaves , I go over your four on to just help the tech contact. They may have to go back to the unit to the rescue to grab the equipment, what the

Speaker 6:

additional needed equipment for that call. Right. So that that could take a few minutes or you're going to withdraw the crew, then the regular crew and send the covert unit. Correct. Yeah . Another thing I'd say also listening to this , don't be afraid to call too . I know on local news lately, they were saying a lot of people weren't calling and we, we've been to a couple calls where they waited , um , and they waited a little bit too long and they got really sick. So if you feel like you need help, you call for help. Don't, yeah , don't hesitate to call right away. We were prepared and we can keep you protected.

Speaker 5:

And, you know, I think that we, and when I say we, I don't mean our municipality specifically, but I mean we in the medical community, I feel like we , we have a little bit of stake in that because, you know, in the very beginning we told people , uh, if you're just exhibiting flu like symptoms and you're sick and you can maintain control that fever , uh, then you know, stay at home , uh , don't swamp the hospitals. But that swamping of the hospitals never really came to all hospitals. And so I feel like our messaging was a little bit skewed. Now obviously it was based on the best information we had at the time. But regardless, I think now we have to do, like you mentioned Paul, a very good job at telling the public, listen, if you are sick, call nine one one, let's get you to the hospital. That's where you need to be. Uh, instead of people being afraid to call nine one one and, or afraid to go to the hospital.

Speaker 6:

Right. Would you agree, Mark? I would agree. And I think one of the things that we saw that really picked up through this is the video conference with the doctors. So that was another Avenue to where patients don't have to be exposed because again, when we take you to the ER, we could be exposing you to , uh, to , to problems. Um, so I think with the video conferencing with the patients , medicine medicine is very , uh , we're able to go to patient's houses and do a good, really good assessment and really decide if they're really don't need to go to the hospital versus, yeah, definitely need to go hospital and then we can educate them there and, right. Right.

Speaker 4:

All right . So one of the things that we've done with, with the police officers that we've spoken to in our firefighters, and we're going to do it with you guys too, is as we close out, give you the opportunity to say something. What would you like to say to our residents? What's the one message that you want to drive home to our residents that you serve on a daily basis?

Speaker 6:

Uh , we're in this together and uh, unfortunately it's not going away instantly. It's not going away anytime soon. I know the Florida is starting to open up now again, but again,

Speaker 7:

it's not going away. Uh , so just keep practicing social distancing the best you can and stay healthy. If you're sick, you're stay home. I would like to express comply is probably the , the biggest message I want to send to our residents . Just comply. As frustrating as it might be like policy , we're in this together. If we comply, if we listen to the guidelines, if we listen to what our mayor has to say, the sooner we comply , the sooner we can open up comply with the word specifically. I mean, I know what you're saying, but our listeners might not so social distancing. Okay . So we want to slowly open the parks . Right, right. You mentioned before I play softball, I've been feeding to play softball. Parks are closed. They opened the park, we flooded the park with softball players. We're not complying. We're not listening to the social

Speaker 4:

and that's why we did, we had opened the parks at one point and unfortunately they had to shut them down the other day because of that.

Speaker 7:

Yeah. Right. So I would say comply cause we are in this together and it's frustrating but comply.

Speaker 5:

It's, yeah, and it's, it's a team effort. I mean I think my message and Joel's message, which is pretty con consistent is have a little bit of patience with your neighbor. Right? Um, try to educate, chime mentor, don't talk down to them or yell at them or become uh , argumentative. Right? Um, if someone is jogging past you and they're five feet 35 inches or five feet 0.5 0.3 feet away from you and they're not wearing a mask and they're , you know, breezing right by, you have patients with that, that's just going to happen, right? So

Speaker 7:

I know with our neighbors, they check on us, we check on them from a distance, right . You know, we'll talk across the yard, Hey, is everything good? And they know, my wife and I are both first responders and they're a little concerned. And then they're a little concerned for themselves. Right.

Speaker 4:

Oh right . It's moved in next door. Has they put up a barrier? No barrier, no barrier. But they said if we get quarantined a yellow sign in giant UV light over your house. Alright . So gentlemen, Paul, Mark, thank you very, very much for spending the time with us. Mark. I'm glad we made it through without a call. Uh , kind of , uh , kind of happy about that. So , um, again, gentlemen, appreciate your time. Thank you very much and , and hopefully the residents can hear the message. Thanks James . Thank you . Stay safe.

Speaker 1:

You've been listening to the city of plantation patient podcast here in plantation. We're working hard to bring you the latest, most accurate information available about the Corona virus pandemic. Remember, if you have specific questions, you can email them to ask [email protected] don't forget to visit the COBIT 19 page on our website and register forever bridge for up to the minute changes regarding the outbreak. We want to thank you for tuning in and taking the time to listen to the experts about how to keep yourselves, your family and your business safe and healthy during the crisis . And don't forget to wash your hands, cover your cough and maintain a safe distance.