ROXBURY, NJ – People who call for fire, police or emergency medical services are being asked to inform dispatchers if they think they’ve come in contact with the coronavirus responsible for the current COVID-19 outbreak.

They’re also being asked to go one step further if they are quarantined in their homes, either by government order or as a self-imposed precaution: Put warning a note on the door.

“We need to protect our crews so that they will be able to continue to meet the emergency needs of the community,” explained Roxbury Fire and First Aid Company 2 on its Facebook page.

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The post explained that its requests for advance notification of possible COVID-19 exposure is based on real-life problems that have occurred in recent weeks.

“Elsewhere, there have been entire fire companies quarantined after they have responded to quarantined homes and were not alerted before entering,” said the post. “Those first responders are now unavailable to help anyone for at least 14 days. In our department we CANNOT afford to have this happen and being VOLUNTEER we do not want to have to take it home to our families.”

Elevated Empathy for Elders

On a less ominous note, the Roxbury Police Department is noting that people should not be afraid to contact police if they are concerned about older neighbors during the coronavirus craziness.

“With the days and weeks ahead please keep in mind our seniors, they're the group most at risk,” said the police department on its Facebook page. “If you know of a senior struggling to find groceries, please send us a message and we will do everything we can to help them out.”

The police called for empathy among its younger, less fragile constituents for those who are less robust. It said seniors should not be “waiting on line for an hour for just a few things” from the grocery store.

“Ask your senior neighbors if they need anything, have them make grocery lists, SHARE with them, cook for them if they need it and offer to make any trips for them,” said the post.

It said many seniors take pride in being self-sufficient and will decline help if asked “because they don't want to bother you.” But the department urged people to “be persistent,” adding, “We owe them this.”

So Far, So Good

Roxbury Office of Emergency Management Director Bob Hackett, who is also chief of Roxbury Fire and First Aid Company 2, said there have been no exposure issues to first responders in Roxbury. He said police, fire and first-aid personnel are adhering to all safety protocols and, so far, have enough protective equipment on hand.

“The Roxbury Fire Department is following all the CDC protocols, and we just advise the public to follow the CDC guidelines too,” Hackett said. “The first responder community is adjusting on a daily basis.”

Among those necessary adjustments: The postponement of all events previously scheduled to take place at the township’s fire houses “until the current situation is abated,” Hackett said. That includes the annual Roxbury Fire Department dinner that was scheduled for this Saturday.

“Right now, its postponed,” Hackett said. “We don’t have another date set ... At the fire department, we are proactive.”

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