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Vicksburg Fire Department receives federal funds to cover COVID-19 response costs

The Vicksburg Fire Department is getting $58,446 in CARES funds through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

CARES, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, provides assistance to health care providers. The fire department qualified for the money because it receives Medicare funds.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday approved a resolution designating Deputy Fire Chief Trey Martin to handle the funds.

Fire Chief Craig Danczyk said the money will be used to cover the costs of equipment used by fire department EMTs and paramedics.

“We’ve had additional costs, and some of that was equipment like PPEs (personal protection equipment), and disinfectant equipment like bleach, sprays, and we’ve also had increase labor,” he said. “We added the COVID-19 ambulance and that had some special decontamination barriers in place. We were trying to give this ambulance more protection in the event of exposure, and we felt we were successful with that, but there was an increase in the manpower.”

Danczyk said the department has had to buy more personal protection equipment and some of the costs of the equipment have been increased by suppliers. Other items, he said, have been hard to find.

And a lot of the equipment used on the ambulance is disposable, meaning it is designed to be used once and discarded to prevent infection.

Also, he said, there are labor and maintenance costs associated with operating the ambulance and the cost of other medical supplies.

“We also feel the coronavirus is going to be here for a while,” he said. “We don’t know how long that is, but we don’t anticipate this is going to end in a matter of weeks. We think this thing will be here in some capacity affecting families.”

He said the department will have to use its personal protection equipment carefully. “We want to protect our first responders where we don’t have a manpower shortage or we don’t have the ability to provide vital services to the public,” he said.

“The information we’re getting from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) says if a first responder uses a gown, gloves, eye protection, and face shield, they’re not very likely to get infected or contract the virus,” Danczyk said. “We’ve seen that first hand when we transported a (COVID-19) positive patient and our crew members did not test positive.

“That’s our goal, provide the service to the public and provide the equipment so our first responders can protect themselves and do the job they’re paid to provide.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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