Montgomery County’s fire department is stretched thin as more than 100 of its firefighters and medics cannot work due to a surge in COVID-19.
Currently, 110 career and 23 volunteer personnel are unable to report to work, in addition to about 75 staff who have other occupational health issues or injuries, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said in a release Tuesday.
The department said it’s adjusting to the shortage in staff by putting recently graduated firefighters to full shifts and reassigning firefighters and paramedics currently in training to their community service responsibilities.
“MCFRS will maintain Advanced Life Support care delivery and the ability to deliver water to burning surfaces to stop the spread of fires. However, we do need our residents and visitors to be aware of the challenges we are facing, and we appreciate their patience, cooperation, and support during these difficult times,” MCFRS Chief Scott Goldstein said in the release.
The department created an EMS “disposition officer” to manage “load balancing” at local emergency departments.
Volunteers are also working to help staff additional peak time transport units, adding additional transport capacity to the system, the department said.
“The staffing shortages we are seeing are putting a strain on our emergency response operations,” County Executive Marc Elrich said in the release. “The steps MCFRS is taking will enable extra personnel to fill critical gaps elsewhere without completely removing service from any stations.”
Elrich encouraged all residents to only call or use 911 services in emergency situations.