East Lansing Emergency Services Continue, with Precautions

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Friday, March 20, 2020, 1:45 pm
Alice Dreger

Above: ELFD Chief Randy Talifarro and ELPD Interim Chief Steve Gonzalez at City meetings.

East Lansing’s emergency services providers are now taking special measures to reduce the odds that police, fire, and emergency medical personnel will be exposed to COVID-19. That way, not only will they and their families be safer, as many of them as possible can remain un-infected and keep coming to work.

Interim Police Chief Steve Gonzalez tells ELi, “we are doing everything we can to ensure our officers' safety and limit any exposures where possible.”

That includes use of personal protection equipment and as much social-distancing as possible.

Says Gonzalez, “This is a very delicate balance to strike so that we can continue to provide public safety services to the community. I can assure you East Lansing Police Officers remain on duty and will be responding to calls for service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

ELPD has cut back on non-essential services to reduce transmission opportunities. According to the City’s “continuity of operations” plan, non-essential police department services currently suspended include “preliminary breath tests at the police desk, fingerprinting services at the police desk, all in-person Police Records transactions, PACE transports to the impound lot, firearms purchase permits, in-person firearms registrations (mail-in only).”

East Lansing Fire Department Chief Randy Talifarro tells ELi, “Our responders have appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to respond for request for service. However, as with the rest of nation, supplies are limited and PPE must be used selectively and appropriately for the level of hazard and risk found.”

Talifarro added, “It is our hope the supply-chain will be improved as the Federal and State Governments devote more resources to this issue.”

In East Lansing, firefighters serve as paramedics. Talifarro told ELi his staff is reviewing all best practices, and, “As recommendations change, policies are revisited and/or modified. We are fortunate in that we have maintained a very active and well-trained Hazardous Materials Response Program because of our responsibilities and risk associated with MSU. Hence, we have devoted significant training to these types of potentials historically.”

That means, in his words, “it is not completely foreign or frightening to us. We will continue to respond and monitor our staff to make sure their concerns are addressed to the best of our ability in a time like this.”

The usual rules for seeking assistance apply: for emergencies, dial 911. For non-emergency calls to the police, call 517-351-4220.

ELi has a special section dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for East Lansing. See it here and sign up for ELi's mailer to stay informed.

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