Coronavirus COVID-19 Testing for First Responders and Health Professional Gets Help from National Guard, MABAS Assets

Coronavirus COVID-19 Testing for First Responders, Dunning Neighborhood in Chicago’s northwest side.

First responders and health professionals arriving to get Coronavirus COVID-19 test on Thursday, March 26, 2020 faced a long line along Forest Preserve Drive just northeast of Harlem Avenue and northeast of the Harlem Irving Plaza in Chicago’s Dunning neighborhood. A quarter-mile long line of personal vehicles was steady from about 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. when the available daily 250 tests were depleted. Inside each vehicle was a first responder or a health care professional sitting in the driver’s seat.

At least two or three Illinois Army National Guard personnel ‘checked in’ each driver. The check-in included a body temperature reading. Then each driver proceeded onto the property south of Forest Preserve Drive where nasal swabs were conducted apparently.

Hundreds of the first responders and medical professionals are anxious about knowing whether they are sick with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Coronavirus Disease COVID-19. Some had fevers and some tested positive or will test positive this week. Some were wearing masks — likely to help protect exposing anyone to the virus if they were sick with Coronavirus COVID-19.

Illinois National Guard Support with COVID-19 Testing.

A convoy of logistical support type military vehicles were staged south of the testing site. Two tents from MABAS — the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System that, in partnership with IEMA (Illinois Emergency Management Agency), has established a statewide, non-discriminatory mutual aid response system for fire, EMS and specialized incident operational teams. Sharing the effort are representatives from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Department of Public Health – EMS Division and Illinois Fire Chiefs Association. The system also defines a resource response plan to any location within the state when the Governor orders a Declaration of Disaster.

MABAS has also become a Partner Agency with Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Together, MABAS and CCDHSEM designs and establishes capability-based systems to serve the high density, urban area.

MABAS includes approximately 38,000 of Illinois’ 40,000 firefighters who staff emergency response units including more than 1,600 fire stations, 2,735 engine companies, 500 ladder trucks, 1,300 ambulances (many paramedic capable), 250 heavy rescue squads, and 1,000 water tenders. Fire/EMS reserve (back-up) units account for more than 1,000 additional emergency vehicles, according to their official website.

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