Sunnyvale and Santa Clara public safety departments want residents to know that fire and police are on the job and that the COVID-19 pandemic won’t reduce the police and fire services to the community, although it may change some procedures.
Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) is “fully operational,” said its Public Information Officer (PIO) Saskia Lagargren. “There are no changes for first responders and in dispatch and [handling] calls for service.
“The department is open and will remain open,” she continued. “The front lobby remains open but we ask that people call the main number first. There are many questions that can be answered over the phone.” Non-sworn staff that can work from home, have been sent home, she reported.
“We’re still committed to providing service and maintaining response levels,” said Lagargren. “If a member of the community calls, we’re there.”
Santa Clara Fire Department (SCFD) is at full staffing and all 10 stations are open and responding to emergencies, said its PIO Drew Miller. The SCFD has, however, limited public access to its buildings, but the community can be confident that “all essential personnel are reporting for duty.”
Most of the safety measures needed already are standard procedures. “We are in the flu season so we are already taking precautions,” he said, although since the general symptoms are the same “it’s hard to know, so we’re erring on the side of caution.
“When a 9-1-1 call comes into Santa Clara dispatch they are screening, asking if the caller has symptoms,” he continued. “If it’s a high risk patient, we’ll take additional precautions. When responders arrive they’ll don protective gear and only one person will interact with the caller. In certain cases that isn’t possible, we still try to limit exposure.”
SCFD has already had four calls from people who later tested positive for COVID-19, Miller reported.
Sunnyvale’s integrated Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides extensive flexibility in deploying resources in response to the pandemic, said Sunnyvale DPS Public Information Officer Craig Anderson.
“All of our police officers, firefighters and EMTs are cross-trained,” he said. “Police officers already have a higher level of awareness about wearing protective gear because they go on more medical calls.”
“We are fully open as far as emergency response is concerned,” Anderson said. “Administrative staff that isn’t part of emergency services has been sent home. Anyone who can work from home, we’ve directed to do so.”
“Our front desk is open,” he continued. “But we have a contact phone outside to the front desk. We’re encouraging people to stay home and call unless it’s an emergency.”
Both cities’ public safety departments have been leveraging social media as well as Sunnyvale’s website to stay connected with the community.
Santa Clara’s Lagargren urges people to rely on sound information sources during this emergency.
There is a lot of misleading and incorrect information out there, she said, and people need to be discerning. Reliable information sources include the CDC, County Public Health Department and city websites.
“In Santa Clara County, people can also call 211 or text 211211 for information,” she said.
There is one small change in the cities’ response policies during the current state of emergency. Both are asking drivers involved in minor collisions to exchange information and file with their insurance companies if both parties are insured, licensed drivers and there are no injuries. There is no need for a police report in these cases.
“We are not taking those reports, in order to minimize exposure,” said Sunnyvale’s Anderson.
Residents are urged to remain calm, Anderson said. “There’s plenty of food in the stores. People are being really considerate. It looks like people are doing a great job.”
Covid-19 Information Resources:
Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov
State of California Coronavirus information site: covid19.ca.gov