CT Chiefs: FFs, Police Lack Protective Gear for Coronavirus

March 19, 2020
"Firefighters and police officers will be on the front lines of this pandemic and need equipment to prevent (them) from becoming sick and unable to respond," East Haven's mayor said.

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EAST HAVEN, CT—East Haven first responders suffer from a lack of important personal protective equipment as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and are seeking help from state and federal officials, Mayor Joe CarforaPolice Chief Ed Lennon and Fire Chief Matt Marcarelli said Wednesday night.

“Firefighters and police officers will be on the front lines of this pandemic and need equipment to prevent their public safety professionals from becoming sick and unable to respond,” Carfora said in a release.


State Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, and the offices of U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, “were very receptive but the shortfalls came as no surprise to them,” the release said.

“I need my people to have the right equipment or they may be getting sick and not able to respond” Carfora said.

Marcarelli said he has a contingency plan in place, should he begin to have personnel unable to respond.


East Haven actually is ahead of other towns and cities in certain regards, Marcarelli said, but he predicted that East Haven’s supply will not last very long.

If predictions of the spread of COVID-19 are accurate, estimates are that about 40 percent of the population could eventually be infected before the virus subsides, Marcarelli said. He said his members will be right in the middle of the event.

Without proper gear, Marcarelli said he fears that firefighters might be sidelined due to exposure or illness.

Marcarelli and Lennon made their concerns known to public health officials in hopes that a cache of 144,000 N95 masks that are expired might be made available instead of being “tied up in red tape” at the state level, the release says.

An expired mask is better than none and at all and that’s a risk Marcarelli is willing to take — and his peers have shared the same sentiment, he said.

The three East Haven officials also stressed the importance of the federal government’s release of the Strategic National Stockpile and said that time is of the essence.

Should police officers become sick or exposed it will only burden the already-taxed hospital system, and the intention is to ‘flatten the curve’ so needed hospital beds are not taken unnecessarily, said Lennon.

Murphy, DeLauro and Fasano all pledged to look into the shortage and see what can be done to speed up delivery of the gear.


©2020 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)

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