FROM FIRE ADMINISTRATION 11.10.2020
The health and safety of you and your family remain the highest priority for our fire department. Recently, we have realized a surge in positive cases and quarantine needs within the fire department and unfortunately, new reports continue to be announced each day. Given that fact, we are concerned about the potential to be exposed to COVID-19 during in station activities—even with the numerous precautions that have been taken to maintain a healthy membership for protecting the residents and visitors of Saint Paul. I am confident that none of us wishes to unknowingly infect a family member or fellow firefighter, but this is a real and plausible concern, so we worked on an opportunity for free testing. This effort will not only protect each of you, but it will also help protect your family members, and our department through this available testing.
Beginning immediately, Ramsey County will (at no cost) test members of the public and our department membership for COVID-19. The testing for COVID-19 is an important strategy in slowing the spread of the virus, therefore, these free COVID-19 tests will assist in ensuring that our families, friends, and co-workers are not put in jeopardy secondary the risks that we have endured during known or unknown exposures at the workplace.
We are not making these tests mandatory, but we strongly encourage every employee to take advantage of this testing opportunity that will be conducted during the work shift. Even if you previously received a COVID test, we would encourage you to take advantage of this test again. There will be no cost to you for this test, but you will need to provide your insurance card at the time of the test. If you take advantage of the testing opportunity—as recommended—you will need to email the Fire-HRWorkComp@ci.stpaul.mn.us in order to have the testing information tracked. These results will only be accessible by Fire HR.
The Chiefs, along with IAFF Local 21 President, Mike Smith, all agree that testing our employees is the right thing to do. We are hopeful that everyone will take advantage of this free testing process. Should we recognize an increase of cases beyond what is currently being experienced, this process will help us to identify “hot spots” and assist in creating plans for the areas of concern and risk.
The current test option is the saliva test and is being sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) in conjunction with Ramsey County Public Health. The following information should answer most questions about the test;
What to expect at saliva testing events:
- Appointments are strongly encouraged—S.P.F.D. will have a schedule placed on the MATS for on duty companies/crews to get their tests. It will be 1 – 2 Stations assigned every 15 minutes. This includes District Chiefs and AMB crews. To accommodate our department, these rotations will be split between two shifts—please follow the schedule so that everyone who would like to take advantage of this testing is able to do so.
- Open to everyone.
- Free: insurance cards are requested
- Symptoms or no symptoms.
- Saliva testing may not be right for those with low saliva production, such as children under age four or someone who has suffered a stroke.
How the saliva test works:
- Do not eat, drink, chew or smoke anything for at least 30 minutes before taking a saliva test.
- A health care professional will tell you how to take the test, but you will do it yourself.
- You will spit into a funnel attached to a tube. Producing the required amount of saliva usually takes 10-12 minutes. It was stated that the more hydrated you are, the test will be completed faster.
- You will receive your results in 48-72 hours.
Waiting for test results:
If your test is positive:
You will receive a call from the Minnesota Department of Health. It is important to answer the call. You will discuss:
- Your test results and what they mean.
- A household plan to help keep others from getting sick, and to make sure you have what you need.
- Any people you spent time close to (sometimes called "close contacts") starting two days before you were tested or when you started feeling sick.
Saliva testing site in Ramsey County
Saliva testing is offered every day at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium (next to Saint Paul RiverCentre).
Monday - Friday (Noon - 7 p.m.) It has been requested that SPFD test between 1430 and 1700 during the week
- **On Duty SPFD Crews have been requested to enter Roy Wilkins through the Skyway level between Xcel and the RiverCentre. Crews will enter through the “exit” and someone will be watching for SPFD uniformed personnel.
Saturday - Sunday (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.) weekend crew rotation will take place between 1100-1300.
After you receive your results and in order to keep our department tracking records complete, it is requested that you email/scan to the Fire-HRWorkComp@ci.stpaul.mn.us indicating 1) the location of your test 2) the date of your test 3) the results of your test. If you would rather hand deliver your results, please drop them in the locked sick slip box at HQ which is located outside of the Deputy Chief’s Office. We hope that this free testing option will bring some relief to the increase in cases that we are seeing and contribute to lowering the anxiety for those of you that have been on the front lines during this unprecedented time.
Finally, if you do receive a negative result, you are still required to continue to follow ALL fire department directives and procedures—currently in place and updated frequently—that relate to COVID exposures, symptoms/illness, testing results.