With the spread of the coronavirus throughout America, people have had to make many changes in their day to day lives. First responders, who are often in situations where they could get exposed to the virus, have also had to make changes in the way they serve communities. Recently I interviewed Joshua Rauh from the Lenexa Fire Department and Danny Chavez from the Lenexa Police Department on what changes they and their departments are making to combat COVID-19.
(Danny Chavez) “There are many jobs that people can do from home or do remotely, but the primary function of a police force is patrol. And while we can have some positions take certain precautions like work from home or work in an office, a patrol officer cannot do that.”
“One of the steps we’ve taken is, you know here in Lenexa we respond with Paramedics on a lot of medical calls. However, we’ve deemed during this time that we would only go if it was absolutely necessary that an officer was needed. And then as far as our officers, we’re asking them to practice good social distancing. Even around the police station, you know our officers are practicing social distancing from one another.”
(Joshua Rauh) “Where in the past we would have five to six people standing in a living room with a patient asking questions and doing procedures, if it’s not a critical patient at this time we’re trying to limit that to one, maybe two people. Every member of the company has to have their temperature taken when we come to work, make sure that we’re all fever free, as that’s kind-of the tell-tale sign of COVID-19.”
I also asked these first responders what their departments’ plans were if a large number of personnel got COVID-19.
(Chavez) “You know, one of the things we’re doing is, you think about a police department, you of course have patrol, which as I said earlier is the primary function of any police force, but you have other sworn officers in different positions. You have Detectives, you have School Resource Officers, we have other specialized units. Any of us are ready if needed to go out and assist patrol if patrol had some kind of exposure.”
(Rauh) “We have a four-phase plan, and currently we’re in phase one of that. Phase one is a hold on vacation time. If one of our members would request a vacation day, which normally would be approved it’s going to be denied. The next phase after that is where they’ll revoke our vacation, so any planned time off that we had, they’re going to take that back. Third is going down to two shifts, so we’d probably go to a 24 on, 24 off, 24 on, 24 off kind of schedule. And then our last phase, which we don’t want to do, would be to pull units out of service if we just can’t staff the same amount of units, and we would actually remove our self-quarantine procedures at that time.”
And finally, Officer Danny Chavez had this message for people during social isolation.
(Chavez) “One thing I would share, you know this is the message authorities are trying to get across to everybody, is to stay at home. That’s the big message we want people to understand, is in order to start to see a decrease in this virus, follow those health department recommendations, and stay at home.”
That’s your news update from The Campus Ledger, I’m Zion Lang.