Firefighters learn through social media that they were exposed to COVID-19

The three firefighters were not informed by the county health department or hospital that a patient they transported had died from the virus


By Laura French

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Three firefighters at an Ohio fire department found out they had transported a patient who later died from COVID-19 after the fire chief's wife read about the death on Facebook. 

Springfield Township Fire Chief Barry Cousino told The Blade that his department had not been informed by the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department nor St. Luke's Hospital that the patient had tested as a presumptive positive. 

Three firefighters at the Springfield Township Fire Department have been quarantined after finding out through social media that a patient they had transported had died from COVID-19. (Photo/Springfield Twp Fire Department Facebook)
Three firefighters at the Springfield Township Fire Department have been quarantined after finding out through social media that a patient they had transported had died from COVID-19. (Photo/Springfield Twp Fire Department Facebook)

Cousino said he called the health department to confirm the information, and that the three firefighters were quarantined on Thursday and tested for the virus on Friday. Cousino said the firefighters are not showing any symptoms. 

County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinksi said Friday that the patient who died had only been confirmed as a COVID-19 victim by the CDC Friday morning and that, until then, the positive test had only been considered presumptive. 

St. Luke's Hospital put out a statement on Friday saying that a "more proactive communications process" was being developed to notify first responders about suspected COVID-19 cases. 

Amy Romstadt told The Blade that her husband Lt. Tim Romstadt, a firefighter-paramedic, was one of the three in quarantine. She said that after being unknowingly exposed to the patient, he had helped develop the department's COVID-19 protocols and spent three days training every member of the department to follow the protocols. 

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