By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) –  When the COVID pandemic first began more than a year ago, the City of Miami Fire Rescue Department was hit with cases. Despite that, the department and its firefighters have kept every ambulance going and provides much needed services to those who can’t easily get a COVID test or vaccine.

It was able to keep going and keep doing business by making moves early on and planning ahead.

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“We started buying personal protection equipment back in February prior to the pandemic hitting the US,” said City of Miami Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Robert Jorge.

That move worked. Firefighters were equipped, but with some changes.

“The way we looked change dramatically, started using encapsulated suits, started using N-95’s on every call, eye protection. Essentially we looked like we were responding to a hazmat scene on the calls,” Assistant Chief Jorge explained, “It was very intimidating to the patients, it was different for our response. It was taxing on our members wearing that and doing the type of work we do.”

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There was major care taken to protect firefighters and patients, but COVID still had a strong impact.

“We had a very high incidence of COVID that we, challenged us, we were challenged. Our members within the department contracted COVID,” he said. “We worked with a decreased workforce for an extended period of time until our members were able to comeback.”


During that time, no city of Miami fire truck or rescue vehicle was taken out of service and beside tending to calls involving COVID, the fire rescue firefighters provided mobile testing and manned a fixed site for tests. But that’s not all.

“The people that were unable to come to a mobile point of distribution, we served by going to their homes providing them with a vaccination which in essence gives us satisfaction because we know that we have extended peoples lives for the better.”

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The emergency operations center was opened for the Super Bowl with the onslaught of the pandemic and it has never closed due to the COVID 19 impact.