NVFC Tells HHS to Prioritize Firefighters and EMS Personnel for COVID-19 Testing

On March 27, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) sent a letter along with other national fire and EMS organizations to Alex Azar, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, asking that firefighters and EMS personnel be prioritized for receiving tests for COVID-19. The letter notes that, “The inability to test these first responders places potentially unnecessary stress on these individuals and creates acute workforce shortages as these individuals are forced to undergo 14-day quarantines.”

The letter was prompted specifically by a fact sheet published by the U.S. Public Health Service placing firefighters and EMS personnel on Tier 2 or Tier 3 priority status for testing depending on if they were symptomatic. The NVFC had previously called on Congress and the President to make volunteer emergency responders a priority for testing, but we continue to hear from members that access to testing remains a challenge in some parts of the country. 25 percent of respondents between March 26 and April 1 to the NVFC’s Survey on Volunteer Emergency Services COVID-19 Experiences indicated that they were having difficulty getting personnel tested.