March 12, 2020
Here is a Public Safety Announcement from the American Fork Fire Cheif, Arron Brems regarding COVID-19 aka: Coronavirus.
American Fork Fire & Rescue
96 N. Center St.
American Fork, Utah 84003
Phone: (801) 763-3045
Fax: (801) 763-3011
CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019
PUBLIC SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT
March 12, 2020
Hello Citizens of Cedar Hills,
American Fork Fire and Rescue would like to take a minute and address the topic of Coronavirus and specifically COVID-19. As many of you know American Fork Fire and Rescue responds to medical emergencies far more often than any other calls for service (fires, vehicle accidents, technical rescues, etc.). Every day your firefighters, who are also your Paramedics and EMT’s, are exposed to any number of illnesses. This is also true for the other health care providers you will find in hospitals, clinics, and care facilities. This being the case we have grown accustomed to taking “universal precautions” and perhaps have a different perspective when it comes to communicable illness. American Fork Fire and Rescue would like to join other health care providers in asking everyone in our community to be vigilant, informed, and above all to stay calm.
So, what are some of the facts regarding Coronavirus and COVID-19? Coronavirus refers to a wide range of respiratory ailments with symptoms ranging from slight to severe. The “common cold” is a form of coronavirus as are more severe ailments like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). COVID-19 refers to a new strain of Coronavirus specific to the year it originated (2019).
Now, what have we learned so far about COVID-19? Like other Coronaviruses, this is a contagious ailment that mainly effects the body’s respiratory system. Like other Coronaviruses, the symptoms vary greatly from slight to severe. COVID-19 positive patients have varied from Asymptomatic (no symptoms at all) to the other extreme of respiratory failure. This is where we are asking people to take some extra time to be properly informed; so, let’s look at some questions and answers.
The big question is, as always, is COVID-19 going to be fatal? The short answer is that’s its very, very unlikely. Deaths resulting from illness are called the mortality rate. Simply put it’s the percentage of deaths relating to the illness. COVID-19 is still being researched so the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have not placed a mortality rate although it is estimated at 1 to 3 percent; however, there are many factors to consider when interpreting this number. The most important thing to know is that the mortality rates are figured from confirmed cases of COVID-19. Since we know that the symptoms vary enormously there are, and will continue to be, thousands or tens of thousands of cases that will go undiagnosed. Many people have, and will experience cold and flu like symptoms. Many never seek care because the majority treat their symptoms with over the counter remedies while the illness runs its course. When these estimates are factored in, the mortality rate of an illness drops dramatically.
Another major factor is demographics. Age, sex, and overall health of a community play an important part in how an illness effects that community. We are fortunate to live in an area that promotes healthy lifestyles, active citizens, and outstanding access to health care. Our best defense against COVID-19, and any other communicable illness is our own immune system. This amazing aspect of our bodies has been tested and strengthened over thousands of years and thousands of ailments. A lifestyle of proper diet and exercise is a long-term benefit to whatever illnesses come our way.
So, who is at risk? The honest answer is everyone is at risk to pick up a communicable illness but as has been discussed, if an individual contracts COVID-19, the symptoms will vary. What we do know is that the people in our community most at risk are elderly males (75+) who have a current or chronic respiratory illness. These individuals should be extra vigilant in minimizing exposure to any Coronavirus. Family and loved ones of these individuals should be extra vigilant when in the company of these high-risk people. As a separate and more positive note the effects of COVID-19 on pediatrics have shown a slow rate of spread and mild symptoms in all cases.
So, what can we do? The answer is the same thing we should always do with emphasis on a few specifics. The main thing is to stay calm and live life. This is not the first time a public health scare has come our way and it will not be the last. With the ease of travel in our society this illness will likely continue to spread and it will also eventually subside. The “universal precautions” mentioned in the introduction are good practice for everyone and can reduce risk of communicable illness. Wash your hands regularly and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially when in public. This is the easiest route for any contagions to enter the body. Help your community out, wearing a mask (other than a fitted filtered mask) has little to no effect on reducing your risk of airborne illnesses; however, if you are symptomatic (cough, sneezing, fever) wear a mask to reduce the amount of germs and viruses in public. This will help prevent this illness from spreading. Stay home if you are sick, and as mentioned before, take the opportunity to eat right, exercise, and live healthy. Stay informed and be mindful of where information comes from. When advertising dollars, likes, and social media followers are the objective, information can be incomplete, out of context, or sensationalized. Talk to your doctor with concerns and be mindful of those in our community that are most at risk.
As for American Fork Fire and Rescue, we receive information and updates from The Department of Health, The State Bureau of EMS, and the direction of the local physician that make up our medical controls. We will continue to treat this threat and any others with the direction of the many agencies monitoring this illness, the excellent resources at our disposal, and the experience and the expertise of the men and women of American Fork Fire and Rescue. We are all in this together. The personnel at your Fire Department live in the same area, have family that go to the same schools and churches, frequent the same stores and businesses, and go to the same parks and movie theaters. We all have a stake in this event and there is one thing for certain. We are always here, we are always ready, and we will always answer the call to the city we are sworn to serve.
American Fork Fire and Rescue