CIRCLEVILLE — When it comes to the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership has been put forward by two men who have gone above and beyond in responding to and being creative with combating the virus.
Circleville Fire Chief Brian Thompson and Circleville Police Sargent Phil Roar both took the lead for their departments with sitting in on the daily briefings and spearheading initiatives such as the decontamination station that’s at the CPD station.
Circleville Mayor Don McIlroy said Thompson was involved from day one with the daily briefings and he helped share information with other departments around the county.
“He represented the city very well,” McIlroy said of Thompson. “He shared thoughts where the fire department was coming from and did a great job.”
Tony Chamberlain, HR and safety forces director, said Thompson’s action of creating a COVID medic truck, was key.
“His forward thinking shows the professionalism he has and the fact he’s not afraid to make decisions and he makes good, sound decisions as well,” he stated.
When it came to Roar, McIlroy said he was important in passing on information to the other officers and the dispatchers.
Chamberlain said Roar was big on keeping up on best practices for the safety forces.
“It was huge that he worked with other agencies and implemented that process,” he added. “He was updating policies and procedures. Something huge he took on was the decontamination station that is open to all local agencies, not just Circleville agencies. It was and still is available to anyone. That showed a huge amount of forward thinking and it showed a huge amount of diligence to push through and find ways to make that happen.
Both Thompson and Roar are two sound leaders doing great things,” Chamberlain remarked.
Thompson said he’s spent the time trying to gather PPE for everyone in his department and at the city, which hasn’t been easy.
“When you have an outbreak, that is one of the most difficult tasks,” he explained. “It’s all about number one — keeping our people safe because if we’re sick or down, we can’t keep others safe and that’s job number one, to keep the community safe.”
Thompson said they’ve had to treat everyone as if they’ve been exposed and having the equipment has been on his mind, from extra uniforms to their vehicles to the station.
“It’s been everyone working together to accomplish one goal to keep everyone safe,” he mentioned.
Thompson said putting first responders in a “cocoon of protectiveness” was paramount.
“It affects our staffing — if one of our people get it or if they take it home to their families,” Thompson explained. “I think we’ve done a good job collectively of making sure we’re doing the right things, watching CDC guidelines and tracking COVID people. Every tool we get, we use it to the best of our ability.”
Thompson said a lot of people are afraid and that fear of the unknown is something they’ve run into.
“It affects every segment of the population differently because of that fear, but all we can do is continue to do the job we do,” he added. “It’s all a process and we just keep working and improving things because we’re inventing the wheel as we go.”
Thompson said Roar’s work with the decontamination station that’s located in the sally port of the police station has been great and it’s made even better that it’s available to any first responder unit in the county.
“We have used it on several of our people that came in close contact with a COVID patient,” he stated. “The first run through was pretty successful. We took notes of what could be a bit better and what we could change and I think having that communication within our safety forces and letting the other safety forces see what we’re doing, we have a template.”
Roar said they’ve been working collaboratively and the idea for the decontamination station came from Chief of Police Shawn Baer.
“He put the initiative on this thing and just let us drive,” he mentioned. “Getting the resources in place and personnel in place and ideas to come together and all of a sudden, we do a full deacon. Everyone that has been involved in this project has come together and watched this thing work. It working as efficiently as it did was really quite surprising to me.”
Roar said the largest obstacle he’s run into is people with a lack on the policies and procedures and he reminds people.
“It’s a reminder to just put your PPE on in public,” he stated. “I’m watching the reports and it doesn’t seem that we’re equally aware. I know that most of our cases are in the prison system, but we are still encouraging it. We arrested someone that tested positive for COVID. It is here. Hopefully [the officers] see the chamber and are reminded, but now that these policies are in place, we don’t have any obstacles.”