First responders prepped for work

By Joseph Slacian

Doctors and nurses, naturally, are the first line of defense when it comes to the fight against COVID-19.

Arguably, first responders are a close second to the aforementioned medical professionals.

Local first responders have discussed dealing with COVID-19 with their department heads.

“It has been discussed,” Wabash Fire Chief Barry Stroup said, noting Wabash firefighters and paramedics haven’t voiced any concerns on the matter. “We deal with communicable diseases on a regular basis and follow the same precautions for all diseases.”

WFD personnel aren’t taking any “extra” precautions, he continued.

“We are responding to all calls with our members’ and patients’ safety in mind,” Stroup said.

He also urged the public to “keep others’ needs in mind while we go through these tough times and try to limit our use of emergency services.”

Likewise, Wabash Police Chief Matt Bruss and Wabash County Sheriff Ryan Baker also have had discussions with their personnel.

“I have had conversations with supervisors within the department in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bruss told The Paper of Wabash County. “The main goal of these discussions has been to mitigate and, hopefully, lessen the likelihood of officers being exposed, and/or infected with the coronavirus.”

WPD personnel are following the guidelines laid out by the Indiana State Department of Health, he said, noting those guidelines include frequent handwashing, sanitizing often-touched surfaces and more.

“When responding to calls, officers will attempt to stay at least six feet away from individuals, if possible,” Bruss added.

“When off duty, officers are urged to practice social distancing.”

Baker said Sheriff’s Department employees have been instructed “to take common preventative measures to potentially avoid COVID-19.”

Changes also have been made at the Wabash County Jail.

“We have taken several precautions with the jail,” Baker said. “We have suspended inmate visitations. We have suspended all non-essential programming.”

North Manchester Police Chief Jim Kirk said he has asked Wabash County Dispatch personnel to ask callers if anyone in their house have any symptoms of COVID-19 when calling for officers to go to a residence.

“Officers are only going to locations that can’t be handled on the phone,” he continued. “Officers are using hand sanitizer that they have in their vehicle, and a face mask and rubber gloves if they feel it is necessary on the call.”

The NM department also has currently stopped accepting gun permits.

“I am requesting people call the department and only come to the department for things that they can’t do with a phone call,” Kirk said. “The North Manchester Police Department phone number is 260-982-8556 during business hours and 260-982-8555 after hours.”

In light of everything, Kirk reminded residents that “we are still patrolling the streets. We are responding to calls.”

Bruss also asked the public, if at all possible, not to come to the police station.

“Unless it is absolutely necessary, rather than come to the police department, we ask the public to please call 260-563-1111 and an officer will either come to your residence or, if the matter can be handled over the phone, an officer will call you back.

“As always, if there is an emergency, the public should call 9-1-1.”

Posted on 2020 Mar 24