Three in four firefighters have complete vaccination against covid-19, announced today the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC), which this year readapted operational plans and guidelines to minimize the risk of contagion.
In an interview with Lusa agency, the national commander of emergency and civil protection, André Fernandes, made an assessment of the firefighters vaccinated against covid-19.
“At this moment of what is the universe of elements registered for vaccination [23.812], 83% have the first dose and 76% have already the second dose, complete vaccination. Here we have an already quite high spectrum of firefighters with the second dose of vaccination against covid-19”, he explained.
André Fernandes said that in 2020 ANEPC made a plan with measures and instructions to prevent contagion among professionals involved in firefighting and relief operations, but this year it was “readapted to this new reality of vaccination”.
The national commander explained that ANEPC and the fire departments have since last year contingency plans aimed at “minimizing the covid-19 infection of their operatives”, having also been “issued specific operational instructions for the different theaters of operations” .
According to the official, these instructions were intended not only for rural fires, but also for the different relief operations that firefighters are involved in.
“We made this instruction last year, which has now been reformulated in light of the new rules. This is evolutionary, nothing is watertight and we maintain this operational instruction that allows exactly, whether it is the transport, the operation, how the spaces for meals and rest areas are organized. All measures were implemented in accordance with the guidelines issued by the General Directorate of Health”, he maintained.
The commander also said that ANEPC has another “plan aimed at the continuity of the business” and that it intends to avoid the interruption of aid in a fire brigade.
“Imagine that some area, some municipality, some fire department that is 100% affected, which has never happened until now in its entirety. We managed to allocate resources to that geographic area and we guarantee that the aid exists, that it is done by another corporation, or by a group or by a team that is placed there”, he said.
The national commander assured that ANEPC has no knowledge of operationals that have been infected in theaters of operations, such as fires, with the exception of elements that are directly involved in pre-hospital emergency or transport of patients to hospitals.
According to André Fernandes, the Civil Protection has a daily basis that monitors the fire brigades from an operational point of view and their personnel, with a daily collection of data on the number of cases.
We have 366 fire brigades that are at 100%, there is no covid infection in these fire brigades, and we have 68 fire brigades that have an affectation between 75% and 100% (…) So we maintain a normal operating situation by the fire fighters in relationship to covid infection“, said.
The national commander stressed that ANEPC performs this analysis on a daily basis and, if it is necessary to reinforce any geographic area of a fire department, this is provided for in the operations plan for covid-19.
For the second consecutive year, ANEPC has the great challenge of reconciling the most critical time in fires with the response to the covid-19 pandemic.
We have this challenge since the first hour. Much of the support for pre-hospital emergency or the transport of patients with covid-19 or suspected infection and hospital transfers has been done by firefighters“, said.
André Fernandes underlined that the firefighters were and are “in the front line” of supporting covid-19 and “did not stop doing” their other missions to help the population.
“As long as we live in a pandemic context, the fire brigades are prepared to provide this support, as they did during the worst period of the pandemic in Portugal”, he concluded.