Allen Park firefighter paramedics share story of being on front lines of COVID-19 fight

Allen Park, a city of 27,000 has a 48 confirmed cases and counting. Paramedic firefighters making these dangerous runs to get patients the medical care they need. 

"We've lost a lot of sleep over it lately, to tell you the truth," said Allen Park Fire Chief Doug LaFond.

LaFond is in charge of 24 paramedic-firefighters who are putting their health on the line, caring for COVID-19 positive residents in Allen Park. 

"They will wear a full Tivex suit with hood, shoe covers, gloves, a face shield, eye protection and an N95 or better, respiratory protection," LaFond said.

About four times a day, they suit up like that.  So far, they have treated and transported 48 COVID-19 patients and another half dozen suspected of having it. 

Chief LaFond says most of the serious cases they've seen, are in elderly people. 

"We have seen quite an increase in calls to our extended care facilities," he said.

As big a community it is, it’s a tight-knit community and we know a lot of them, and we know a lot of their families," said Deputy Fire Chief Ed Cann.

A look at the protective gear Allen Park firefighters are wearing as they serve those who need it most amid the pandemic.

Cann said symptoms they are treating are what we've been hearing about the coronavirus all along. 

"In the worst case scenarios its effectively like a very bad pneumonia," Cann said.

"It's body aches, it's difficulty breathing, it's wheezing and temperature is key," LaFond said.

Protective gear is also key - and it is coming from the community. On Friday, just as they were running low on masks, Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers dropped off boxes. Lowe's gave cleaning supplies to keep the facility sanitized and Global Green with the Tivex suits to make runs. 

"All of our guys have family at home, many have young children and elderly parents," Cann said. "Their biggest concern isn't for themselves but bringing COVID-19 back with them."

Firefighters are canceling vacations, coming in on days off - and want to work more than ever. 

"There is nobody better, there is no one I'd rather have taken care of me or any of my family members if something were to happen to me," LaFond said.

So far, none of the firefighters have or are suspected of having COVID-19. If it does hit the department, there is a contingency plan that would mean mandatory overtime and stopping any time off to handle the patient load.