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French fire crews swap hoses for masks to fight coronavirus

STRASBOURG, France French fireplace crews accustomed to attending road traffic accidents and putting out fire are adapting to a new line of function — 1st responders within the fight against coronavirus.

With the French healthcare program under substantial strain from your numbers of persons sick while using virus, firefighters are being asked to help more than usual.

In the region all-around Strasbourg in eastern France — site of one the main coronavirus clusters in the country — fire crews are despatched to people’s homes should there be a suspicion they may be struggling with coronavirus.

That takes the stress off regular ambulance deckie’s, particular around transporting essential cases to help hospitals using spare bed frames.

The number of callouts for alleged coronavirus circumstances has “increased exponentially”, said Laurent Tritsch, chief doctor for the fire service in the Lower Rhine region around Strasbourg.

French firefighters normally play a role in supporting the ambulance service, but with coronavirus that part of their work has become the main focus.

Of the 180 callouts firefighters in the Lower Rhine region deal with on average each day, 100 are related to coronavirus, said Patrice Gerber, deputy director of the region’s fire service.

One evening last week, a crew was despatched to the home of a possible coronavirus patient in a Strasbourg suburb.

They put on masks, gloves and surgical gowns before driving to the address.

An elderly man wearing a surgical mask, unsteady on his feet, came out of the house and clambered onto a stretcher in the back of the firefighters’ vehicle.

A crew member took the man’s temperature and called out the reading: 37. 5 Celsius (99. 5 Fahrenheit).

“Have you possessed any the respiratory system difficulty?, ” one of the crew asked, before fitting the patient with an oxygen tube.

As darkness fell, the crew delivered the patient to the accident and emergency department at Strasbourg’s Civil Hospital.

Firefighters are aware of the risks. Thirty in the region are confirmed coronavirus cases, and another 60 are considered probable or possible cases.

“A firelighter is not a superhuman. It’s someone who is additionally worried about their particular health, the health of their family, ” said Gerber, the regional deputy head.

But he said they were getting the job done.

“It’s with regards to 30 years since I’ve been on this profession, with every key event the item surprises me how the fire service normally, on the country wide level, can mobilize alone. ”