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.