Together we have been battling the many challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to address. We have struggled through social distancing, feelings of isolation, and a desire to get back to normal.

During these difficult times, please know that the women and men of the Rockford Fire Department are here for you, as we have always been!

The Rockford Fire Department continue to respond to every call and are doing everything they can to ensure you and our personnel stay safe and healthy. While we may look a little different as we respond to certain 911 calls, the skills and compassion of our men and women will continue to show through.

Firefighters and paramedics are wearing an increased level of personal protective equipment (PPE) as we care for potential COVID-19 patients. This includes gowns, masks, eye protection, gloves, and face shields. Do not be alarmed. This added protection ensures that members of your fire department are able to continue providing emergency medical care to those in need.

In addition, our fire stations are closed to the public, and while we miss interacting with residents at our fire stations and various events, this is a necessary step to ensure our personnel stay healthy and able to serve the residents of Rockford.

As we, together, respond to COVID-19 pandemic, please remember a few important tips:

Wash your hands frequently.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Cover your cough or sneeze.
Practice social distancing.
Stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. Staying at home matters and will reduce the spread of this disease.
If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, call your health care provider. Please do not visit the emergency room or call 911 unless it is an emergency.
If you do need to call 911, the telecommunicator and our responding paramedics will ask you a series of questions about your symptoms and medical history. It is important that you answer these questions accurately and completely, with as many details as possible, as it allows us to provide you with the care you need and to take the necessary precautions to protect our personnel. We treat everyone who might need our help, regardless of symptoms or medical conditions. We ask that you answer our questions to the best of your ability so that we can keep our providers healthy and able to serve our community.

Please be assured that we are continue to prepare and plan now so that we can continue to provide our operations and service delivery should we begin to see increased calls for service.

We hope we won’t have to use these contingency plans but they are ready to go if needed.

Remember - you are not alone and we are all in this together.

Derek Bergsten is chief of the Rockford Fire Department.