NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 38

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FIRST RESPONDERS

'WE'RE IN
DISASTER
MODE'
WILL LESSONS FROM THE PANDEMIC CHANGE
EMERGENCY RESPONSE FOREVER?
BY JESSE ROMAN

T

HROUGHOUT THE DAY ON April 4, Fire Department
of New York (FDNY) radios crackled every few minutes with
a voice repeating the same chilling phrase: "10-37, Code 1"-FDNY
shorthand for a victim found dead on arrival.
"This isn't firefighting, this feels more like the crew on a
sinking ship desperately trying to load the boats while the water
gets ever closer," Simon Ressner, an FDNY battalion chief, wrote
of that draining day from his station in Brooklyn. His account,
which was later published on the nonprofit news website ProPublica, sums up as well as any the experience of emergency
responders at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That Saturday alone, 421 New Yorkers died from the novel
coronavirus, and more than 1,300 new victims were hospitalized, according to the New York City Health Department. In the
following days, the daily death toll would climb even higher. "I
thought that surviving September 11, 2001, would be the part of
history I would tell my grandchildren," Ressner reflected, "but
COVID has clearly surmounted even that disastrous and heartbreaking day."
With near daily exposure to the virus, frontline health care
workers and first responders have been among the millions of
infected globally, and dozens of fire and emergency medical services (EMS) workers have already died from complications related
to the virus. According to a database launched by the International

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Contents
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover1
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover2
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 1
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 2
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 3
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Contents
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 5
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 6
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover3
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover4
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