Douglas County Fire District 15
We have COVID-19 Tests: Getting the word out about free testing services in Douglas County Fire District 5
We have COVID-19 tests!
Getting the word out about free testing services in Douglas County Fire District 5
Chief Tyler Caille of Douglas County Fire District 5 wants to get the word out: We have COVID-19 tests!
In Douglas County Fire District 5 (DCFD5), located in Mansfield, a rural farming community about 3 hours away from Seattle, Chief Caille and his volunteers provide critical Fire and EMS support to the sprawling farming community. Since they began implementing the WA COVID-19 testing program in May 2023, the community support they provide expanded to included COVID-19 test kits. As the public’s focus on the pandemic changes – despite COVID-19 continuing to spread – Chief Caille wants people to know that those COVID-19 tests are still available and still needed. Right now, his biggest challenge is getting the word out:
“As far as challenges go at this point, it’s really just getting the word out. We’re still working on creative ways to get that message delivered more efficiently, but that’s our main focus right now.”
Of course, that wasn’t always the biggest COVID-19 related challenge for Chief Caille. When the pandemic started, the community – including the volunteer EMS and firefighters – were scared. Chief Caille and his team struggled to find enough PPE to keep both ambulances in service. The situation was dynamic and constantly changing as new information came out, but under Chief Caille’s leadership and direction, FD5 was able to adapt and establish protocols to operate as safely as possible.
Another challenge for DCFD5 is the sheer size and scope of the service area. DCFD5 responds to calls across 540 square miles and has to transport patients anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to the nearest hospital or trauma center depending on their emergency. Sometimes, people call the ambulance because they lack transportation to get themselves to the doctor, but don’t necessarily need emergency medical care. Chief Caille elaborates:
“Sometimes people don’t need to be transported to the hospital. That was one thing that came out during COVID – we started screening more people at home. Do they truly need to go to the ER? Or is it a case of isolating, staying home, monitoring your symptoms and calling us back if you need help?
The testing materials we’re able to access through WA COVID-19 allow us to not only make those responses, but now we can leave something behind. We can test people on site, we can consult with the medical directors and ER doctors at the hospital and decide together – does this patient really need to be transported? Or can they stay home?”
Having COVID-19 tests available adds another layer of support that the EMTs can provide both directly to the community and on calls. When you can leave test kits with patients, you empower them to monitor their health and the health of their family without having to worry about how to get to the doctor or how to pay for a test kit.
“We’ve literally placed the test kits on our ambulances. It’s part of our patient response. Even if we respond to a call for a patient that doesn’t have COVID, we say: Hey, we have these test kits. You mind if we leave them with you?
Because you don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. You don’t know what next week is going to bring. And it’s another way that we can help get those materials out to the community.”
When Chief Caille learned about the WA COVID-19 program, despite his team’s heavy work load and limited time, he saw it as an opportunity. “The way I looked at it was: How else can we help our families? Our communities? Even the visitors that just travel through here? What can we offer them?” He knows from experience that some supplemental programs add more work and stress on a volunteer fire department – and that’s the last thing he wants for his team. He’s looking to enhance what his volunteers can do on scene, without adding additional tasks to their workload.
With support from Health Commons Project, Chief Caille has been able to implement the WA COVID-19 testing program simply and efficiently. He encourages other fire departments to keep an open mind about this and similar programs, because “it’s opportunities like this that give volunteer fire departments with limited funding the chance to do some pretty amazing projects that are going to be in place for a long time.”
Now, Chief Caille is focused on letting the community know what’s available to them. With 28 years of experience in EMS, Fire Department Chief since 2004, and a member of the local police force as well – Chief Caille is used to wearing many hats and working on all sides of COVID-19 and emergency response. So leading the communications strategy for COVID-19 testing is just another of the many roles he plays. He uses social media regularly to get the word out, posts flyers in the few local businesses in town, and spreads information by word of mouth: If you see someone at the fire station, stop in and get some tests!
Chief Caille is also actively pursuing new and innovative ways to spread the word, including digital signage located along the main road in Mansfield.
“We’re all just here to help our community. And this is just an extra level that we can do. It’s one extra step we can take to provide a valuable service to them.”
“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer”, a quote from Lt. Colonel James H. Doolittle, holds strong to all those who volunteer to serve as volunteer Firefighters and EMTs. Volunteering to respond to the call for help of a friend, neighbor or complete stranger is something not all are able to do. For those who can, they find their service to be a very noble and rewarding profession, as they are able to assist others in their time of need. Small communities nation-wide rely on the service of volunteer emergency responders. I am so extremely proud of the work and time our group of volunteers devote to make our department a success and one our community can rely on.
One of DCFD5’s most active volunteer EMTs, Clint Wall, has devoted the past thirty years to Douglas County Fire District #5 and the last twenty-eight years as an EMT. Clint currently serves as a department leader holding the rank of Lieutenant. In 2023 so far, Clint has responded to over 80 percent of the district’s EMS calls, several along with his wife, Dianne, who is also one of our district’s EMTs.
Clint is a true public servant and always champions and advocates for the health of the patient’s he provides care for. Clint was recognized as the Washington State Firefighters Association EMT of the Year several years ago for his work.
Clint, along with all our volunteer EMS providers, encompasses the quote by Colonel Doolittle, by the actions they carry out every time we receive a call for service.
Douglas County Fire District 5
- All hazard fire and EMS
- 2 BLS ambulances
- 12 volunteer EMT’s / 20 volunteer Firefighters
- Run ~125 EMS calls a year
- 30-60 minutes to the nearest hospital/trauma center
Mansfield at a glance
- Mansfield is a small farming community with a population of about 320 people
- Mansfield is located in Douglas County
- Majority of population is retired, elderly, or living under the poverty line
- One K-12 school with 120 students
We provide resources and one-to-one technical assistance to help you educate community members on why testing matters and how they can test themselves for COVID-19. Knowing when to isolate, especially when other vulnerable individuals may be involved, is critical to protecting community health.
The Washington State Department of Health and Heath Commons periodically reviews the contents of WACOVID19.org to keep information content of WACOVID19.org as up to date as possible during guidance changes and program expansion. The content of WACOVID19.org does not necessarily represent the official views of WA State Department of Health.