Video interview with Hamilton Township Fire Chief Kelly Serson
The Fire Chiefs of Northumberland County have written a letter calling on the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit and Province to take immediate action and have restrictions put in place for people travelling from a locked down zone (red zone) to other areas.
Hamilton Township Fire Chief Kelly Serson authored the letter who was also signed by President of the Chief’s Association Tim Blake (Trent Hills Fire Chief) and Vice President Gene Thompson (Deputy Fire Chief Cobourg).
The formal letter was sent to MPP David Piccini and the local Medial Officer of Health on Tuesday, November 25, 2020.
Serson adds when he sees the number of people travelling from zones that are in lock down it becomes frustrating. This past weekend was no exception.
“I understand that everybody is sick of the pandemic, as am I, but the rules are the rules. We must try to keep the infection rate as low as possible. I don’t think that it’s right that we have people travelling from areas that are restricted or locked down come to shop, in any other area, not just Northumberland.”
Serson said the regulations clearly state “essential travel only.”
“Shopping for Christmas presents is not essential travel in my mind.”
With the infection rate rising in a number of areas including Northumberland County, Serson said he believes there are some travel related infections linked to the County.
A major concern for all Chief’s across Northumberland County is if any one of the emergency service workers contracts COVID-19.
“For a service like ours, one infection can take our entire fire department down.”
“We are a composite department, a number of our people are volunteers. They work, they have family life and they have their fire department bubble.”
“It’s a difficult situation to manage, but we are trying to manage it.”
What doesn’t help is people coming in from other areas.
One emergency could shut down a fire station within a week which would leave a community at risk.
“Then who provides the service?”
“As a essential service, as a frontline worker, I’m asking everybody to stick with this a little longer.”
“We know there is no a vaccine coming in the next few months.”
Like the entire population Serson said he is “COVID weary.”
“I have family members that are immune compromised and I don’t want to give it to somebody that I go to help.”
Serson is hoping the letter will get to the people who are making the decisions in the Province.
“I know we can’t stop the people from coming – but I’d like to see better enforcement strategy and make sure they are enforcing.”
The letter was sent on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.
The letter is to Lynne Franke – Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
The Fire Chiefs of Northumberland County have, and continue to work very closely as a group to ensure we are developing, implementing similar and appropriate measures locally, to control the spread of COVID-19 and sustain our business continuity in the County of Northumberland. We have been supportive of the measures taken by the Province to fight the spread of COVID-19 virus.
Effective November 23, 2020, two regions, Toronto and Peel in the Province of Ontario have moved to lockdown status. This lockdown, although understandable and supported, is creating a serious and significant dangerous situation for our communities in the County of Northumberland. Over this past weekend, we all observed an obvious increase and presence of people in our area.
The increase is suspected to be a result of travel from the locked down areas travelling to our area to shop and undertake recreational activities. This same behaviour was very real and witnessed this past summer when our communities were under Phase 3 and other communities were more restricted. Parks, beaches, and public spaces were grossly overcrowded with people from the more restricted areas. We as a group of front line leaders would like to express our deep concern for the increase of people who are no travelling to our area from the locked down and red zone regions.
Our fear and concern is that people infected with COVID-19 will begin to infect people in our area; the result would raise the number of infections in our communities and County, simply creating a ripple effect and pushing out the infection rate.
The Fire Chiefs of Northumberland County request that an inquiry be completed immediately and action be taken to ensure restrictions are put in place for people travelling from a locked down or red area to a green or yellow area.
We also recommend the following items:
· that the lock down is expanded
· that an enhanced communication program be developed and implemented
· that more enforcement officers are appointed
· further regulatory protocols be developed and
· that the existing and new regulatory measures are strictly enforced
The letter is signed by Hamilton Township Fire Chief Kelly Serson, President of the Fire Chiefs of Northumberland County Tim Blake (Fire Chief Trent Hills) and Vice Present of the Fire Chief’s of Northumberland County Gene Thompson (Deputy Chief Cobourg Fire Department).