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Brothers and Sisters,
First, let us begin by saying thank you to our incredible members and their families who are selflessly serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic every day. You are doing a heroic and stellar job as we face an unprecedented health crisis.
We would like to assure our members and our fire families that their health and safety are our #1 priority. As we navigate this complex and everchanging new environment and work diligently to provide emergency services to those in need throughout our communities, we want to ensure that at home our members are taking every precaution. As first responders, we face unique risks, this means that both at work and at home we need to maintain an extra level of precaution and sanitization.
Attached you will find a guide created for our members to help protect and inform our fire family about steps they can take now to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Even if you do not feel sick, you could potentially infect a person who is vulnerable. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
Please also take a second read of Wednesday’s message regarding COVID-19 and the issues that we are dealing with in our response. Every day we are working as part of the team including the Fire Chief, CEO, BOS and the Unions representing the members on the frontline. We are in daily meetings with all Unions regarding the state of the County to ensure all County workers are taken care of while we all carry out our respective missions.
Please contact the Union if you have any further questions or concerns. If you are a member of The Local 1014 Health Plan, please remember that we offer telemedicine online through Live Health Online 24/7. Please visit The Local 1014 Health Trust website for more information (www.local1014medical.org).
Our County Response
The Public Safety Unions representing Sheriff’s, Lifeguards and Fire are in a separate coalition of Unions working directly with the CEO, BOS and our respective Department Chiefs to address the needs and issues affecting our memberships. As our members are directly on the frontlines dealing with patients and citizens who may be affected by COVID -19 we have top priority for PPE, and resources to make sure we are able to handle our jobs safely.
We are working closely with the IMT and Warehouse folks to ensure the PPE we need is readily available. They have been wonderful in clearing up any logjams. If you are having any issues getting PPE, please notify your Chiefs in your chain of command and contact any Union Director to get that handled ASAP. In addition, please continue to be vigilant and purposeful in following the protocol and using appropriate PPE. This makes a significant difference in the number of members who might be exposed.
Quarantine has been one of the issues that all Public Safety Unions have struggled with regarding how and where to quarantine and not expose our homes and families. Some used hotels and others different homes and none of those options were that efficient or practical. We will be working resolving all expenses and or other issues with regard to those cases.
We now have resources allocated by the County in the case of future quarantine needs. The County has trailers placed regionally throughout the County and alternative housing we will use for any member who is symptomatic and requires quarantine. We will be also exploring adding resources such as trailers to be placed at members' homes where they can be close but in true quarantine separate from their loved ones. More on this as we get set. Hopefully, we will not have to use these resources, but we will be ready if necessary.
We are embedded in the Governor’s Office working to address the COVID-19 health and safety issues with regard to workers' compensation along with all other state Firefighter Unions and we will continue to update the membership as that work progresses. Much like MRSA, SARS, and Pneumonia, this will take time.
Local 1014, ALADS, PPOA and LACOLA, the public safety coalition, is also part of a team working in partnership with the CEO of LA County and the Board of Supervisors to chase federal and state resources and funding for our needs. This is very important to get FEMA and federal reimbursement for expenses, salary, and wages to provide leave time and ensure the cost of PPE and other large ticket items are covered. To date, the federal packages under Executive Order of the President have contained no local government monies. We are trying to get ourselves included in the third package and next order. We are also lobbying to get the west coast Navy hospital ship to be anchored in LA Harbor. At the state level, we are chasing funding and much-needed directives on workers' compensation in partnership with the County and Cal Chiefs.
Class 155 and Training
On the local front, we also saw Class 155 graduate and enter the field at a time of unprecedented danger and uncertainty. They now take their place among us as proud Local 1014 Firefighters. We are also working hand-in-hand with the Training Services Section to ensure we can find ways to continue our hiring and training of recruits to fill our vacancies. We must stay on track to fill our spots. This is considered an emergent essential service within our Department. Know that every effort and consideration to starting our next tower and the next after that are in full swing and moving smoothly even as we deal with this pandemic. Monday we will greet the newest recruits with special instructions and guidance to keep them safe and get them trained and certified and ready to join us in the field. Special thanks to Training Services Section who will be working late into each evening getting prepared and adjusted to handle things a bit differently.
Finally, we would like to remind all of our members to take time to keep yourself healthy both mentally and physically. Take time to ensure you are working out and also spending time away from the news and social media both while at work and at home. Take time to communicate regularly with your friends and family members and use our family guide to help them understand our work and the things we are doing to stay safe as we serve.
We are all in this together, and we will get through this together. Remember our Peer Support Team if you should need additional help and or guidance in dealing with the stressors and uncertainties of this environment. This is serious and with the “Safer at Home” orders from the County and the State, we all must do our part on and off duty. It has a direct impact on our friends and families.
Try and support small local businesses while at work when buying chow and when thinking of buying groceries or other items you may need for home. We applaud Mayor Garcetti and our Chair of the Board of Supervisors Kathryn Barger for their tireless work and collaborative leadership to make the hard decisions needed to intervene and reduce exposure.
There is no room to pretend that this is not real or disregard the mandates to reduce exposure. It might not be about you, but it may very well be about the 3, 4 or 5 others you affect who could die as a result. This is not speculation but rather based on hard data and constant evaluation of modeling done both at the City and the County and the State.
Stay safe and please take care of one another as we navigate this uncertain and difficult time.