(WJW) -- The FOX 8 I-Team has found some of your neighbors worried they may have to wait for help when they call 911 due to the coronavirus.
Local leaders say the wait could be two to three times longer than usual in Washington Twp. outside Mansfield. The township suddenly has a shortage of firefighters and paramedics.
A group of Mansfield firefighters works there part-time. But their boss in Mansfield has said they can’t work second jobs for now because of the coronavirus.
Township trustee Bob Entenmann spoke of possible delays in response time, telling the I-Team:
"It could be 20, 30 even 40 minutes and that's not good.”
Mansfield firefighters work part-time as first-responders in a number of nearby communities. But now that they’re not allowed to do that, Washington Township is losing three-quarters of its paramedics.
Trustee Entenmann added, “Now, we’re down to two paramedics.
Now, if somebody has a heart attack or a stroke, not only is our response time longer, but also so is getting them the right, correct medicine."
The I-Team started investigating after we obtained an internal memo. That memo was sent this week telling firefighters in Mansfield they can't work second jobs in EMS or health care during the national emergency over the coronavirus.
So we went to Mansfield to see the chief. Fire Chief Steven Strickling said,
"Our first and primary responsibility is to protect the citizens of Mansfield."
The Chief says he simply wants to limit the chances his firefighters get infected with the virus.
He added, "We're starting to see people who are getting sick, can't respond to work, so we're trying to minimize as much exposure as possible. We have a responsibility to 47,000 people in Mansfield."
There are the same concerns in Washington Township. But without outside firefighters working part-time, local leaders wonder, ‘Now what?’
Bob Entenmann said, "It’s about the people we serve. The residents.”
Washington Township just can’t go out and quickly hire more firefighters due to training and certification requirements.