The CERN Fire and Rescue service, CFRS, part of the Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Protection Unit, HSE, is on call 24/7 and is always part of CERN’s first response in an incident or accident. Cooperation between the CFRS and Host State emergency services was reinforced in 2016 through a tripartite agreement between CERN, France and Switzerland. Thanks to this framework, the CFRS is part of the Geneva University Hospitals, HUG, emergency service “Urgences santé 144,” as well as part of the Geneva Fire Brigade. During the first 15 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, the CFRS helped with 20 ambulance transports in the Geneva region following a request from the HUG. On average, the service supports the hospital with 5-10 ambulance transports per year.
Given its experience in radiological protection measures, the CFRS was also asked by the, HUG, to develop a procedure for the proper use and disposal of the personal protective equipment, PPE, used in ambulances, including PPE required by COVID-19 such as masks, goggles and overalls. Because this is a novel virus, there was no routine already in place. The procedure is now used for all ambulance transports across the Geneva region.
Besides the collaboration with Switzerland, the CFRS has also further formalised its relations with France and the local emergency services of the Pays de Gex. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the local services could call the CFRS to check the availability of ambulances, fire officers or fire engines. Now, the CFRS is integrated into the French system, just like any other local fire station, and can therefore respond more quickly and easily. So far, the CFRS has not been asked to intervene in France, but this formalisation has been well received by the local French emergency services and the Department of Ain. Should the need arise, the CFRS will be ready!