A Letter to the Citizens of The Elizabeth Fire Protection District from Fire Chief TJ Steck

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Friends, Customers, Stakeholders and Partners,

As your Fire Chief, I have a very specific responsibility to protect our citizens from all- hazard emergencies. Our firefighters are some of the highest trained and dedicated in the region and we take pride in using our skills and capabilities to meet your needs. Under normal conditions, we feel confident that we can adequately protect our community in times of need, but we aren’t sure we can protect our community from this impending threat without your help. As of today, we find ourselves fighting a very different fire than we are use to. The "Corona Virus" has shown no signs of slowing and promises to surge over the next 2-3 weeks. Elbert County is not protected from this spread and the virus does not discriminate based on political belief, race, age, gender or economic status.

Where Are We?

Elizabeth Firefighters and our neighboring partners are currently staffed at a normal level. We have prepared our crews and 911 dispatchers through training and policy and have prepared our vehicles for an adequate response to this new threat. We hold regular conference calls with area hospitals, public health and community leaders. We are anticipating our staffing levels to drop in the future due to the impacts of our exposure.Our firefighters are aware of the risks and are willing to do what it takes. We have built contingency plans to continue our operations even through a worst case scenario. We fully anticipate that the needs of our community will overwhelm our emergency services and hospital capabilities.

Through our research and planning of this pandemic, we have learned that 80% of the people that are infected with this virus will recover with minimal impact. We know that 15% will need more definitive care and 5% will require significant hospital intervention. We can assume that our elderly community members will be affected more than anyone else but nobody is immune including our first responders.

What Do We Need?

I am tasked with leading a group of first responders that care for our customers regardless of political or sociological beliefs, religious faith, race, cultural or economic status. As citizens, we all have a distinct responsibility to care for our family and fellow community members, many of which are at retirement age. It is time for us to open our eyes and realize that our community now has a common enemy. This enemy requires commitment and investment from everyone regardless of our contradictory values or beliefs. We need to break down the fences just for a while to focus on the common enemy. It is time for us to coordinate our efforts and slow the spread of Corona Virus within our area to protect our greatest resource… our people.

With or without government stay at home orders, I am challenging you all to do the right thing. I am challenging everyone to choose to stay home. I am challenging everyone to take care of our higher risk neighbors so they can stay healthy in their homes. I am challenging you all to make a 2 week investment in your community…. together… so we can beat this common enemy.

What you can do?

Please join our fight and make the investment by following the guidelines below:

  • Wash your hands all the time every day.
  • Stay home. Use this opportunity for spring cleaning.
  • If you have to go out, stay at least 6 feet from others no matter what.
  • Go outside and soak up the sun. Stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Share your toilet paper (and essentials) with people that shouldn’t be out searching for it.
  • Monitor your health. If you have symptoms, stay home, isolate from others in your home and call your doctor.
  • Don’t call 911 unless you have life threatening conditions such as severe shortness of breath or decreased mental status associated with the virus.
  • Do call 911 for normal emergencies not related to the virus.
  • Keep updated using reputable information sources such as CDC.gov and local public health organizations.
  • Order out from our wonderful local restaurants and enjoy their adaptive delivery services.

We have many positive experiences we could share regarding this situation. Many citizens have donated vital protective equipment including masks, cleaners, gowns and hand sanitizer. Many of our struggling businesses have placed their own concerns aside and have donated equipment, chemicals and supplies. I want to thank everyone that has helped our agency to prepare for the Covid19 Pandemic.

Finally, I want to assure you all that your firefighters will do everything they can to care for our community members during these very unique times. We need your help. Please make the choice to slow the spread. Many lives could depend on it.

Best wishes for safe and healthy spring,

TJ Steck
Fire Chief