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Clarksville Fire Chief asks 911 callers to be honest about their COVID-19 status

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 20:04:12-04

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Clarksville Fire and Rescue says they're seeing an alarming trend of people lying about their COVID-19 status when they call 9-1-1.

"People are not truthfully answering the pre-screening questions," said Chief Freddie Montgomery Jr. of Clarksville Fire and Rescue. "In some cases, they’re still afraid to tell us and we don’t find out until they get to the ER."

Despite the risks, Clarksville's chief says they will always respond. "No matter the time. No matter the call," said Montgomery.

But with a little notice, they can arrive at the scene prepared. People are used to seeing them suit up for a fire call, but now, because of COVID-19, even routine medical calls require extra protections.

Firefighters and Emergency Medical Responders are now wearing PPE from head to toe, including booties on their feet, gloves, medical gowns, safety glasses and masks.

There are even more steps once they get back from a call.

"My contaminated uniform goes straight into the wash, shower time, it’s thorough and it takes a lot," said Chris Mason, an Emergency Medical Responder with Clarksville Fire.

Mason says an infection could just about shut down their entire fire hall.

"Now that’s 12 people that can’t serve the community because somebody didn’t tell us the truth," said Mason.

He's also worried about bringing that danger home to his family. "For us it’s everything, I mean I have kids at home there are other people who have kids," he said.

So now the ones that always answer the call are issuing an important one of their own. "We need people to be honest with us," said Mason.

Chief Montgomery's letter, pleading for honesty can be read in full here: