Carmel Fire Dept. embraces new roles in preventing spread of COVID-19

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From contact tracing to providing information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 at local businesses, members of the Carmel Fire Dept. have willingly filled a variety of new roles no one envisioned when the year began.

This is all in addition to being the city department that works most directly with COVID-19 patients during emergencies.

CFD spokesman Tim Griffin said accepting the responsibilities made sense.

“For us, it’s a no-brainer to step into this role in the community to help (residents) understand what can protect them,” Griffin said. “It’s what we do.”

CFD has been making scheduled appearances at local businesses since April, first to discuss ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with local business owners and then setting up booths outside to share the same information with shoppers and provide masks and hand sanitizer. Its next stops will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 25 at Rackz BBQ (5790 E. Main St.) and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 26 Mitchell’s FIsh Market (14311 Clay Terrace Blvd.).

The department has also embraced its role as contact tracers for city employees and family members on their health insurance diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Indiana State Dept. of Health began coordinating statewide contact tracing in mid-May, but at first it could take more than a week for some people to be notified that they had potentially been exposed to an infected person, and by then they could have unknowingly infected others, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. With CFD handling contact tracing locally, notification can take place within hours of a positive diagnosis.

“Hopefully, that prevented a lot of spread of the virus,” Brainard said.

Griffin said CFD isn’t trying to take over the state’s efforts.

“We’re doing it as a courtesy so we can be faster in our community. We can be quicker to the punch because we’re dealing with a smaller pool,” he said. “We’re not trying to be the Carmel health department. We understand the state is doing a good job.”

Fortunately, CFD hasn’t had to spend much time lately contact tracing. On June 24, Brainard said a city employee hasn’t tested positive for nearly four weeks.

“I credit that on the fact that we did a lot of early testing and we isolated people who were working together and found out who had it,” he said. “We’re continuing to do that.”




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