A message from NCDHHS:
Today, January 14, 2021, we are sharing that vaccine providers that are ready to expand may vaccinate all health care workers and anyone 65 years and older.
North Carolina moves through vaccination phases by aligning to federal priorities while empowering local health departments and hospitals with flexibility to move to the next priority group as they complete phases and have vaccines available. It is the responsibility of all vaccine providers to ensure equitable access to vaccines. This will mean taking intentional actions to reach and engage historically marginalized communities.
NC DHHS has created a suite of communications materials to help you be a source for accurate information. You can use these resources to keep your networks and communities informed about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, as well as direct them to information that will help them find local vaccination sites. Available in both English and Spanish, the materials include general information about COVID-19 vaccinations and North Carolina’s ongoing rollout that can help you inform people of all ages.
In addition, we now have video testimonials that we hope you will use and share!
- Older North Carolinians, You Have A Spot, Take Your Shot (English/ Spanish / Captioned)
- Governor Jim Hunt on the importance of taking the COVID-19 shot
- Reverend Darryl Warren Aaron of Providence Baptist Church, Greensboro on the importance of taking the COVID-19 shot.
- More videos are online.
Our website, YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov, has flyers, fact sheets, postcards in English and Spanish that we ask you to post, print and handout in places where people visit, and share in newsletters. Check the website often for new materials.
POLICE, FIRE, EMT, MEDICAL PERSONNEL
As a first responder, you have been working around the clock to assess, alleviate, and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States. You are on the front lines answering calls – as you always do – at great risk of being exposed to this deadly virus. Because of your heroism, First Responders Children’s Foundation, through the support of generous donors, is taking action by providing financial assistance to those affected.
Over the past 20 years, First Responders Children’s Foundation has provided financial support to children who have lost a first responder parent in the line of duty as well as first responder families enduring financial hardship due to tragic circumstances. The Foundation also awards grants to first responder families in financial distress and supports programs operated by first responder organizations whose purpose is to benefit children or the communities in which they live.
First responders are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in every community across America, so First Responders Children’s Foundation will provide support to first responder families who are enduring financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Available COVID-19 Assistance Grants
- $1,000 grants for first responders with financial hardship caused by COVID-19
- Funeral expenses for first responders who have died from COVID-19
- Community grants to public safety agencies affected by COVID-19
- College scholarships for children of first responders who have died or are disabled
SUPPORT OUR FIRST RESPONDERS: https://give.1strcf.org/give/280172/#!/donation/checkout
Results From Week 5 of the NVFC Survey to Document the Challenges that Volunteer Emergency Services Face Related to Social Distancing and COVID-19
The NVFC created a survey to better understand the experiences of volunteer and combination fire, EMS, and rescue departments dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19 and related social distancing measures. Click here to view the results of the survey from the past week. We encourage you to take the survey weekly so we can track changing needs and challenges.
Financial Assistance Available through First Responders Children’s Foundation
The First Responders Children’s Foundation is providing financial support to first responder families who are enduring financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak. First responders, including volunteer firefighters and EMS providers, can apply for $1,000 grants to help offset the financial impact to their families caused by COVID-19. Other areas of assistance include funeral expenses for first responders who have died of COVID-19, community grants to public safety agencies affected by COVID-19, and college scholarships for children of first responders who have died or are disabled. Learn more here, or apply for assistance here.
CDC/NIOSH, FBI Issue Warnings About Counterfeit Respirators
On April 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued warnings about fraudulent respirators and personal protective equipment that have entered the supply chain. Click here for more information.
DHS Science and Technology Office Seeking Feedback on Operational Impacts of COVID-19
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Science and Technology has created a survey to measure the impacts on emergency response operations related to COVID-19. The survey will be distributed every 4-6 weeks, and responses to the first iteration of the survey are due by April 30. Click here to learn more and to take the survey.
First Responders Peer-to-Peer App
This is a difficult time for many first responders, and it is important to be able to connect with others who know what you are going through. The All Clear Foundation is currently providing subscription-free access to their ResponderRel8 app. Through this app, first responders can connect directly and anonymously with colleagues to share information, stressors, or experiences. Learn more here. Download the app here.
If you need further support or would like to talk to a behavioral health professional, you can call the Fire/EMS Helpline at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473). The Helpline is part of the NVFC’s Share the Load program and is provided by American Addiction Centers.
Find additional resources and information relating to COVID-19 and the fire, EMS, and rescue services on our COVID-19 landing page.
COVID-19 Impact on Fire & EMS: Weekly Update
The NVFC is providing a weekly update to the fire and emergency services on news, resources, and relevant information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find additional resources on our COVID-19 webpage.
Results from Week 3 of the NVFC Survey to Document Volunteer Emergency Services’ COVID-19 Experiences
The NVFC is running an ongoing survey to better understand the experiences of volunteer and combination fire, EMS, and rescue departments dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19. We encourage you to take the survey here, and to retake it each week so that we can track changing challenges and needs. Click here to view the results of the survey from the past week.
NVFC Asks FEMA, HHS to Direct Resources to Emergency Response Departments
The NVFC is working to ensure that fire, EMS, and rescue departments have adequate resources to maintain services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created new challenges for agencies related to response, health and safety, fundraising, training, and recruitment and retention. Click here for more information.
Donate to Help Responders in Need
The NVFC recently expanded the Volunteer Firefighter Support Fund to provide assistance to eligible volunteer firefighters and EMS providers who have suffered an involuntary loss in wages of at least $500 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistance comes in the form of a one-time stipend of $350 to help responders meet basic needs, as funds allow. Since March 24, we have received over 350 applications, demonstrating the urgent need for this type of assistance.
The Volunteer Firefighter Support Fund relies entirely on donations to be able to provide this support. The NVFC donates all administrative costs so that 100% of donations goes to help volunteer responders. If you would like to donate to the fund, you can do so through our GoFundMe page, through our web site (select “SupportFund” as your donation type), or contact us for other options at email@example.com or 202-887-5700.
Virtual Meeting Guidance
Want to move your department meetings online but not sure where to start? We have created a quick reference sheet for hosting and participating in a virtual meeting. Access it here.
Online Training Available
Due to the current challenges in holding in-person department training, in our last issue we highlighted some online training that is available for firefighters and EMS providers, including free courses in the NVFC Virtual Classroom. Here are a few additional sources for online training:
- ResponderSafety.com Learning Network has close to 40 free courses relating to safe roadway operations.
- FM Global’s Fire Service Learning Network offers self-paced modules relating to topics in firefighting at commercial and industrial properties, including a four-module course for Fighting Fire in Sprinklered Buildings.
- UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute’s Fire Safety Academy offers free science-based courses for fire service personnel. Topics include fire dynamics, firefighting tactics, and firefighter health.
- The National Fire Protection Association is offering free access to its energy storage systems, alternative fuel vehicles, and flammable refrigerants online programs, in addition to its paid online learning and certification programs.
- ESIP/McNeil & Co. have launched a free weekly webinar series and also made some of their E-learning courses available to non-clients.
- TRANSCAER offers a variety of online hazmat training courses for emergency responders and community leaders.
Red Roof Launches “Room in Your Heart: Opening Doors to First Responders” Program
Red Roof is giving back to the country’s first responders, including nurses, doctors, firefighters, and EMS providers, who are fighting tirelessly to combat COVID-19. Many of these essential workers on the frontlines need a place to self-quarantine to protect their families. Through May 31, Red Roof is donating a limited number of available rooms to responders to provide a place to sleep and stay between shifts. Learn more and view participating locations here.
A View from the Ground
Fire and EMS departments across the country are feeling the impact of the coronavirus outbreak to varying degrees as the virus spreads. Two recent articles showcase what it is like for departments on the frontlines of the pandemic. A blog post by NFPA’s Northeast Regional Director shares what it is like for his small volunteer fire company in northeast Connecticut as they prepare for a potential influx of cases. A recent article in the New York Times followed a day in the life for career responders in the hard-hit community of Paterson, NJ.
Managing Stress in Uncertain Times
Many people are feeling stress, fear, or other strong emotions during these difficult times. This can be even more pronounced for responders who are on the frontlines of the pandemic. It is important that we are there for each other and that we have access to resources that can help. The Fire/EMS Helpline is available if you need at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473). We also have links to webinars, tips, and resources for managing stress and taking care of your mental health here.
PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS’ BENEFITS PROGRAM CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19 UPDATE
Administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program provides death benefits to the eligible survivors of public safety officers who are fatally injured in the line of duty, disability benefits to public safety officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty, and education benefits to the eligible spouses and children of fallen and catastrophically injured officers. BJA’s PSOB Office is honored to review the more than 1,000 claims submitted each year on behalf of America’s fallen and injured public safety heroes and their loved ones.
With the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, America’s law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders face a new health risk as they continue to selflessly serve their communities.
Under the current Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Act and its implementing regulations, conditions caused by infectious diseases, viruses, and bacteria may be found to be an injury sustained in the line of duty.
To establish eligibility for benefits under the PSOB Act in connection with a public safety officer’s death or disability due to COVID-19, the PSOB Act and regulations require that the evidence show that it is more likely than not that the disease resulted from the public safety officer’s exposure to the disease or the virus that causes the disease, SARS-CoV-2, while performing a line of duty activity or action. In general, BJA will find that the evidence shows a public safety officer with COVID-19 contracted it in the line of duty, when (1) the officer had engaged in line of duty action or activity under circumstances that indicate that it was medically possible that the officer was exposed to the virus, SARS-CoV-2, while so engaged; and (2) the officer did contract the disease, COVID-19, within a time-frame where it was medically possible to contract the disease from that exposure. In addition, in the absence of evidence showing a different cause of death, BJA generally will find that the evidence shows a public safety officer who died while suffering from COVID-19 died as the direct and proximate result of COVID-19.
As the PSOB Office receives claims based on COVID-19 exposure, it will work closely with survivors, officers, and agencies to obtain whatever evidence may be needed to support each claim, through all available information, including incident reports and related documents.
For questions regarding the PSOB Program or filing a claim, please do not hesitate to visit PSOB’s online portal at www.psob.gov or email the PSOB Director at AskPSOB@usdoj.gov.
Guidance documents, like this document, are not binding and lack the force and effect of law, unless expressly authorized by statute or expressly incorporated into a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement. Consistent with Executive Order 13891 and the Office of Management and Budget implementing memoranda, the Department will not cite, use, or rely on any guidance document that is not accessible through the Department’s guidance portal, or similar guidance portals for other Executive Branch departments and agencies, except to establish historical facts. To the extent any guidance document sets out voluntary standards (e.g., recommended practices), compliance with those standards is voluntary, and noncompliance will not result in enforcement action. Guidance documents may be rescinded or modified in the Department’s complete discretion, consistent with applicable laws. Pursuant to section 3(b)(1)(I) of Executive Order 12988, nothing in this document is intended to create any legal or procedural rights enforceable against the United States, except as the same may be contained within 28 C.F.R. part 32.
WORKERS COMPENSATION ADVISORY CONCERNING COVID 19 FROM NCDOI
COMMISSIONER’S ORDER EXTENDING DEADLINES
COVID-19 IMPACT ON FIRE & EMS: WEEKLY UPDATE
April 3, 2020
The NVFC is providing a weekly update to the fire and emergency services on news, resources, and relevant information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find additional resources on our COVID-19 webpage.
Weekly Results of NVFC Survey to Document Volunteer Emergency Services’ COVID-19 Experiences
The NVFC has created a survey to better understand the experiences of volunteer and combination fire, EMS, and rescue departments dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19. We encourage you to take the survey here, and to retake it each week so that we can track changing challenges and needs. Click here to view the results of the survey from the past week.
Volunteer Fire Departments Can Apply for CARES Act Loan Programs
The recently passed CARES Act enables volunteer departments with an IRC 501(c)(3) or IRC 501(c)(4) designation to apply for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Nonprofits that apply can receive an advance of $10,000 within three days, which does not need to be paid back even if the organization is denied for the loan. Nonprofit volunteer departments that pay firefighters are also eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. Learn more about these programs here.
Marcum LLP is hosting a webinar on April 6 at 1pm ET on How Your Nonprofit Organizations Can Get the Most from COVID-19 Legislation. They will review how nonprofits and foundations can take advantage of the various programs and provisions made available through the CARES Act, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, Paycheck Protection Program, and more. Learn more and register here.
COVID-19 Added to List of Diseases Under Ryan White Act Requiring Exposure Notification
On March 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a notice that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is adding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the list of potentially life-threatening infectious diseases to which emergency response employees may be exposed. Click here to learn more about what that means for emergency responders who need to be notified if they were exposed in the course of transporting a patient.
PSOB Office Provides COVID-19 Program Update
Last month, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) published a one-page program update document explaining how the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program and implementing regulations treat conditions caused by infectious diseases like COVID-19. Click here to learn more about the factors that BJA will consider in evaluating PSOB applications related to COVID-19.
NVFC Tells HHS to Prioritize Firefighters and EMS Personnel for COVID-19 Testing
On March 27, the NVFC sent a letter along with other national fire and EMS organizations to Alex Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, asking that firefighters and EMS personnel be prioritized for receiving tests for COVID-19. Click here for more information on the letter and the need to expand testing access for volunteer emergency responders.
Free Exposure Tracking Tool Available from FirstForward
You can use FirstForward’s free exposure tracking tool to document line-of-duty exposures to COVID-19. Documentation is critical in the event you contract the illness so you can demonstrate a line-of-duty connection when filing a benefits or worker’s comp claim. In addition, you can add important details to your incident report, such as tagging fellow responders who may also have been exposed during the incident. Learn more, create an account, or login here.
Volunteer Firefighter Support Fund
As announced in our last update, the NVFC Volunteer Firefighter Support Fund has been expanded to include eligible volunteer responders who have suffered an involuntary loss of wages in excess of $500 due to COVID-19. Assistance comes in the form of a one-time stipend of $350 to help responders meet basic needs, as funds allow. We rely entirely on donations to be able to provide this important benefit for volunteer responders. The NVFC donates all administrative costs, so that 100% of donations goes to help volunteers in need. You can learn more, apply for assistance, or donate to the fund here.
Taking Care of Our Mental Health in Uncertain Times
It is critical that we take care of ourselves and each other as we navigate through these difficult times. The NVFC teamed up with Ali Rothrock of On the Job and Off this week to host the webinar Reset and Recharge: Taking Care of Our Mental Health in Uncertain Times. Watch the recorded webinar and share with your crew. You can find additional resources to help with stress management and behavioral health here.
Facebook Live Q&A on COVID-19
If you weren’t able to attend our live Facebook Q&A, you can view the recording here. Dave Finger, NVFC chief of legislative and regulatory affairs, Tom Miller, chair of the NVFC’s Hazmat Response Committee, and Jules Scadden, vice chair of the NVFC’s EMS/Rescue Section, addressed some commonly asked questions from volunteer fire and EMS providers regarding COVID-19 response and considerations.
Training at Home
It may be difficult these days to keep up with department training, but many places offer online training that can be done from home. We are offering six courses in our Virtual Classroom free to everyone, and all courses are always free to NVFC members. IFSTA provides the ResourceOne Classroom learning management system at no cost to departments that use IFSTA manuals; learn more here. The National Fire Academy offers a selection of free online courses. ESIP provides its E-Learning platform and courses free for any McNeil & Company customer. Online training platforms, such as Action Training Systems, are also available for a charge.
Share Your Positive Stories
During this time of crisis, we have been hearing amazing stories of volunteer firefighters and EMS providers going above and beyond to serve their communities in incredible and unexpected ways. We want to hear about the amazing work your department is doing! This may range from providing shopping services for the elderly, cheering up the public through an apparatus parade past homes, hosting online reading sessions for kids focused on fire prevention, issuing a creative challenge that people can do at home… the ways responders are giving back is endless. Tag the NVFC in your Facebook (@nvfc1) or Twitter (@nvfc) posts, use #ProudOfOurResponders, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will share your great work to help spread positivity and joy during this stressful time.
The recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, has mostly gained attention for the stimulus payments to be delivered to qualifying individuals and families. However, the Act contains huge benefits and tax incentives for businesses and certain non-profit organizations. Incorporated non-profit fire departments exempt under IRS Code Section 501(c)(3) qualify for consideration under the Paycheck Protection Program section of the Act. Many departments have applied for exemption under Section 501(c)(4) which is fine for normal operations but they will not be eligible for the loans offered in the Act.
Basically, businesses can apply for an expedited SBA loan through their participating bank for loans to help pay payroll and related taxes and benefits, rent, mortgage interest or utilities during the period affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Afterwards, these loans can be forgiven based on the level of employment continued by the borrower during the period so in effect, it becomes a grant.
Another part of the Act which all non-profits may apply under is the expansion and simplification of existing Emergency EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loans) program loans. The Act section on Payroll Tax Credits would probably not apply to emergency services since our operations have not been “fully or partially suspended by government order” during this time.
This is a very complex piece of legislation. Even though it contains 880 pages, it still does not lay out the specifics to administer. The SBA is supposed to have applications and framework ready to begin processing loans by April 3. If your department is interested in pursuing these funds, I would suggest that you contact your local bank for their guidance on submitting an application and/or watch the SBA website.
A full article discussing the Act and non-profits is sponsored by NVFC and located athttps://www.venable.com/insights/publications/2020/03/cares-act-provides-financial-relief-for-nonprofit
PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS’ BENEFITS (PSOB) PROGRAM CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19 UPDATE
Administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program provides death benefits to the eligible survivors of public safety officers who are fatally injured in the line of duty, disability benefits to public safety officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty, and education benefits to the eligible spouses and children of fallen and catastrophically injured officers. BJA’s PSOB Office is honored to review the more than 1,000 claims submitted each year on behalf of America’s fallen and injured public safety heroes and their loved ones.
The amount of the PSOB benefit is $365,670.00 for deaths and disabilities occurring on or after October 1, 2019. The amount of the PSOB educational assistance benefit per month of full-time attendance on or after October 1, 2019 is $1,248.00.
With the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, America’s law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders face a new health risk as they continue to selflessly serve their communities.
Under the current PSOB Act and its implementing regulations, conditions caused by infectious diseases, viruses, and bacteria may be found to be an injury sustained in the line of duty.
To establish eligibility for a public safety officer’s death or disability due to COVID-19, the PSOB Act and regulations require that the evidence show that it is more likely than not that the virus resulted from the public safety officer’s exposure while performing a line of duty activity or action. While some states have laws that presume a public safety officer’s infectious disease resulted from their employment, eliminating the need for evidence of when the transmission of a disease or infection occurred, the PSOB Program has no such presumption. (The PSOB Program does cover certain conditions resulting from September 11th exposure, as coverage is based on the laws and regulations establishing the World Trade Center Health Program and its scientific and medical analysis.)
As the PSOB Office receives claims based on COVID-19 exposure, it will work closely with survivors, officers, and agencies to seek evidence of the exposure and causation through all available evidence, including incident reports and related documents.
For questions regarding the PSOB Program or filing a claim, please do not hesitate to visit PSOB’s online portal at www.psob.gov, or email the PSOB Director at email@example.com.
NCSFA Offices Closed During COVID-19 “Stay at Home” Orders
Attention Members of the NC State Firefighters’ Association:
The NCSFA offices have closed, in compliance with recently issued ‘Stay at Home’ orders, due to concerns over the Covid-19 virus. We are unsure how long the orders will remain enforced so we will remain closed until they are lifted.
Some of our staff will be working remotely and will have access to emails, as well as phone messages. During this time, there may be a delay in your messages getting returned and we are grateful for your patience.
Thank you for your understanding and we pray everyone will be back to normal operations in the near future.
NCSFA Executive Director