March 28 update: GFFR operations; now 147 cases across Montana

In case you missed this information from Great Falls Fire Rescue in the March 24 update, here it is again.

Great Falls Fire Rescue

Assistant Chief Jeremy Jones told The Electric that Great Falls Fire Rescue implemented additional screening of calls through the dispatch center on Jan. 30 as news of the COVID-19 oubreak started ramping up in the Seattle area.

Since then, they’ve added other screening questions related to international travel and symptoms for flu like calls, he said.

GFFR fire

Photo courtesy Great Falls Fire Rescue

The department doesn’t have surgical gowns, but they have Tyvek suits on hand so firefighters are wearing those with gloves, glasses and N95 masks to calls with reported flu like symptoms. To all other medical calls, they’re wearing glasses, gloves and EMS jackets, he said.

Jones said they overdid it, but are trying to limit exposure to firefighters.

They’ve cancelled a lot of training, spent significant time disinfecting the fire stations, which have been closed to the public, cancelled public programs, and switching to Zoom for daily meetings and some trainings.

The department is going to continue using Zoom for some meetings and training after the pandemic since it saves time and keeps firefighters in their districts more, Jones said.

March 24 COVID-19 updates: School closures, dine-in restrictions extended to April 10; Catholic schools closed through May 4; election updates; county landfill changes; changes to GFPD operations, city animal shelter; GF Clinic now accepting homemade masks

GFFR is not responding to Code 1, or minor medical, calls at nursing homes during the pandemic, nor are they responding to calls when police officers stop and check on someone they around town and normally ask for medical to check the person, Jones said.

The city has moved the mechanics who work on police and fire vehicles to a separate location from the city garage so that emergency operations can continue should any of those employees be exposed to the virus.

GFFR has instituted a single point of entry at all fire stations and firefighters are doing daily self-checks to make sure no one comes to work with symptoms and exposes other first responders.

Jones said the department has plans for further operational changes should the COVID-19 situation in Great Falls worsen.

He said they’ve also seen a decline in the number of calls and that for the most part, people are staying home.

Since March 14, Jones said GFFR has had 234 total calls and of those, 14 were people with flu-like symptoms.

Jones said they’ve also developed a separate spreadsheet to track calls of flu-like symptoms to watch the trends and have the information handy if the health department needs it or any of those people test positive for the virus.

Total cases in Montana

According to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services there are now 147 cases of COVID-19 across the state. One of those cases is counted in Montana though the woman was tested and remains in Maryland.

So far, according to DPHHS, a total of 3,629 tests have been completed as of March 28.

state tracking map shows the confirmed cases are as follows by county:

  • Cascade County: 7 cases
  • Gallatin County: 57 cases
  • Yellowstone County: 26 cases
  • Lewis and Clark County: 10 cases
  • Missoula County: 9 cases
  • Silver Bow County: 8 cases
  • Flathead County: 6 cases
  • Toole County: 5 cases
  • Madison County: 3 cases
  • Lincoln County: 3 cases
  • Broadwater County: 3 cases
  • Jefferson County: 2 cases
  • Park County: 2 cases
  • Lake County: 2 cases
  • Ravalli County: 1 case
  • Roosevelt County: 1 case
  • Hill County: 1 case
  • Jefferson County: 1 case
  • Meagher County: 1 case