New measures to tackle fire & rescue staff shortages

January 2019 photo shows a Samu nurse during an emergency response simulation in Esch-Belval. Anthony Dehez/archives

January 2019 photo shows a Samu nurse during an emergency response simulation in Esch-Belval. Anthony Dehez/archives

Paul Schroeder said during a televised press briefing that out of the CGDIS professional team of 770, 15 people were in self-isolation, nine in quarantine, six in full isolation and one was in hospital.

Staff still working have been issued with protective gear. In addition, a dedicated health and mental health support system is in place and they have received training on how to reduce the chances of contracting the illness, Schroeder said. However, he could not rule out losing more staff in future.

To ensure continuity of services in future a number of steps have been taken or are underway:

  • The first responder service has been suspended, to avoid placing staff at further risk and to compensate for staff absences.
  • The number of people working in an ambulance team has been reduced from three to two.
  • People can no longer accompany a patient in an ambulance unless it is a parent or guardian with a minor.
  • A fifth emergency "Samu" centre is to be opened in Findel from 1 April, 2020. With help from Luxembourg Air Rescue, it will support the country's hospitals.
  • The Ville de Luxembourg has put in place a disinfection post for ambulances.
  • Interior minister Taina Bofferding has launched an appeal to communes asking for volunteers who could assist the CGDIS.

24,000 calls

For the past three weeks people with coronavirus symptoms have been directed to a special hotline 8002 8080. Staff have responded to some 24,000 calls since it opened, Schroeder said. “People have understood the message not to call 112 [for cases releated to coronavirus],” Schroeder said.

Bofferding said that services designed to help victims of domestic violence remained operational. She said that victims can always call the police, contact SOS détresse (site in English) and find out more by visiting violence.lu for additional services.

Bofferding also added that it was important that services handling waste collection continued and that these staff are protected.