COVID-19: A Leading Cause of Death in EMS/Fire Services in 2020

The Covid-19 Pandemic in America has exacted a devastating toll on human life since it took root in our country in February and March of year 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives during the course of this year to the deadly virus. While government-imposed restrictions and shutdowns rightfully protected the most vulnerable as the virus began spreading, there are some who have charged head first into the danger of Covid-19, disregarding their personal safety to provide essential services and safety to those in their communities. EMS & Fire Service personnel have bravely put themselves on the line throughout the pandemic, suffering casualties along the way.

Firefighter Covid-19 - Firefighters Support Alliance

EMS professionals have been on the front lines of the battle against Covid-19. Each and every day during the pandemic they have been front and center continuing to provide essential and life saving services to patients across the country. But with this sacrifice has come a heightened risk of contracting the virus themselves. In a September article by EMS1, it is noted that “Much of the pandemic data available on COVID-19 related risks and fatalities among EMS clinicians have been reported out of New York City,” one of the major epicenters of the violence in the United States and a place where “demand swelled to over 7,000 calls a day.” And the virus has taken a deadly toll on EMS: “By Sept. 8, 2020, eight EMS personnel in New York State had died from COVID-19.” New York is not the only place with a significant number of front-line EMS Covid-19 deaths. According to statistics also compiled by EMS1, New Jersey has recorded the highest casualties from Covid-19 in the country, with 13 deaths as of December. Nationwide, over 40 EMS personnel have succumbed to the virus.

EMS workers are not the only emergency personnel who have suffered under Covid-19. Firefighters across the country have also been greatly impacted by the inherent risks of their jobs related to Covid-19 exposure. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “Covid-19 may double the overall line-of-duty deaths among the fire service…before it is over.” The agency reported that as of September, 11, there were “18 confirmed on-duty firefighter deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it the leading cause of death so far this year.” FireRescue1 has compiled a more extensive list, which outlines all fire personnel, active and retired, who have died from the Covid-19 virus nationwide. Tragically, over 50 active and retired firefighters across the country have died, according to the site’s list.

As long as the pandemic is gripping our nation there will continue to be deaths and human tragedy. It is inevitable that more will lose their lives, but we must honor those who elect to continue risking themselves to help and save others. We can do this by calling our state, local, and federal representatives and making sure Fire & EMS services receive the funding they deserve to keep themselves and our communities safer. If all else fails, we can donate to our local departments to make sure front line emergency workers have the essential PPE that they need to stay well protected from Covid-19.

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