About three weeks ago, we implemented a Fire Chief's Resource webpage on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) with helpful links to resources at the CDC and WHO, as well as a live integrated Esri map detailing cases around the world on the IAFC website.
I have decided to go to the next level to demonstrate our association's leadership and provide assistance to our members and the fire service in general.
As the concern with the Coronavirus spreading outside of China has ramped up, I feel it is imperative for the IAFC to establish a Coronavirus Task Force to provide information to our members and advise the IAFC Board of Directors accordingly.
The fire service is the largest provider of EMS in the United States, and with a major footprint in Canada, our fire departments and firefighters are the medical care providers on the front line. Our first priority is the safety and health of our firefighters and the impact that it can have on our departments directly and indirectly. Besides safety and health issues, our departments may experience chain supply disruptions with medical gloves, goggles, N95 respirator masks, and other medical supplies.
I have reached out to Chief John Sinclair, 2016-2017 IAFC president, and asked that he chair this task force with specific objectives. Chief Sinclair, who has served on past committees involving emerging diseases, has a strong foundation for how a task force of this nature should function and operate. John has graciously accepted this opportunity.
Specifically, I have asked Chief Sinclair to:
- Create a task force for six months to monitor the virus and advise the IAFC Board of Directors as needed. This task force may extend longer if needed.
- Select a representative from the EMS Section, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, Safety, Health and Survival Section, Volunteer and Combination Officers Section, Hazardous Materials Committee, and Emergency Management Committee. We may reach out to the private sector and ask for a representative to be on the task force to help us better understand supply chains.
- Provide timely alerts with information to our members as needed.
- Create a blog on the IAFC website to share and crowdsource the knowledge through KnowledgeNet or some other delivery platform.
Some may feel we are not at a crisis stage yet, and I would agree. However, I feel it is important with all the media attention that we, as an association, be at the forefront if this situation worsens.