Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - So far, so good is the response from Rochester first-responders who are dealing with the public risks associated with the COVID-19 crisis.

Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Scott Behrns says patrol deputies are using more caution when they have contact with the public and are making more use of personal protective equipment when responding to medical calls. Behrns says some changes have been made to limit the amount of contact between personnel but they have not affected the department’s patrol and investigative responsibilities. Behrns says as of Friday, no deputy has contracted the virus.

Rochester Police Dept. Lt. Tom Faudskar says his department is making similar changes and so far, no officers have become infected. He says citizens are being asked to use the recently designated call center for property crimes and other lesser complaints so officers can complete a report over the phone rather than in person.

As for the Rochester Fire Department, the overriding concern is losing an entire shift.


RFD Chief Eric Kerska says steps have been implemented to reduce the size of firefighters at any one site to avoid exposing a large number at the same time. Kerska says his staff has been asked to remain vigilant when off-duty to lessen the risk of becoming exposed.

Firefighters are now wearing protective masks in the fire stations and whenever out in public. Along with the masks, firefighters don eye protection, gloves, and gowns whenever appropriate on emergency calls.

“We don’t want to surprise people when they see us out in public or when we show up on the scene of a call wearing masks,” said RFD Deputy Chief Vance Swisher. “Due to the nature of our job and not always being able to social distance ourselves, the masks offer another important way to protect the community.”

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