Wilkes-Barre fire dept. working to protect employees after positive COVID-19 case

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A Wilkes-Barre firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing other emergency personnel to quarantine.

The city health department confirmed Monday that four firefighters and one paramedic are now quarantining after a positive test at the city’s south station.

“We’re very fortunate it was one station, one shift, and it hasn’t gone past that at this point,” said Chief Jay Delaney with the Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department

Delaney says all possible measures have been taken to limit further spread.

“Our most important thing to do was, first of all, take care of our employees, and make sure that there wasn’t a spread to other employees. And ensure the public that we have systems in place when we respond to emergencies, that they’re well protected.”

Those include the recent acquisition of an Aero Clave Decontamination System, industrial grade technology being used to disinfect firehouses and emergency vehicles and the first in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Delaney says the spending hasn’t stopped there.

“We’ve spent about $150,000 to buy additional PPE protection for our staff here, so we can deal with the pandemic today, tomorrow, and the next day.”

The mayor, pledging support for the department, said in part, “I have full confidence in Wilkes-Barre’s fire and EMS personnel to continue to perform their duties in a safe manner as they follow CDC recommendations.”

Delaney stresses the city’s emergency response capabilities have been unchanged by the fallout from Sunday’s test.

“Operationally, nothing has changed. We continue to respond to all hazards. From fires, to medical emergencies, to rescues, to car accidents.”

Chief Delaney says he’ll have to pull firefighters and emergency personnel from other shifts to cover those currently in quarantine. All five currently in isolation were part of the same shift.

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