'Can be intimidating:' Milwaukee County first responders wear head-to-toe gear amid COVID-19 threat

MILWAUKEE -- FOX6 News on Tuesday, March 31 spoke with the Milwaukee Fire Department and West Allis Fire Department about changes to what Milwaukee County first responders wear when they head out to emergency calls during the coronavirus pandemic, stressing that they don't want the public to fear their new attire.

"As first responders, we're going into people's homes all day and all night long," said Lt. Michael Ball, MFD. "We know, from what we understand, the worst is yet to come, and we are doing everything we can to prepare for this."

First responders in Milwaukee County are among a number of emergency crews wearing new attire to protect themselves and the public -- top to bottom coverage for every day emegencies.

Lt. Michael Ball

"We are responding to our EMS calls dressed a little different," said Lt. Ball.

There's also a suit worn for specific COVID-19 responses.

"A lot of times, people watch movies, and see people especially dressed up in a one-piece suit," said Lt. Ball. "It can be a little intimating."

MFD officials asked that you don't panic if you see them wearing extra gear. They noted that everyone they care for will also be given a mask to wear.

Deputy Chief Michael Wright

"PPE, the personal protective equipment will have an eye shield, eyeglasses on, face shield," said Deputy Chief Michael Wright, West Allis Fire Department. "It will have the gown. We will have gloves. Some may even have shoe covers. We may look different. It's the necessary measures to protect the public."

First responders said they don't want the public to feel uneasy when they wear this equipment while entering homes.

"It's no disrespect in any shape or form," said Wright. "If we don't stay healthy, we're not going to be able to help you."

It's not known how long they'll need to wear the additional equipment for, but like everyone, they said they're hopeful the timeline is shorter, rather than longer.

"Remember, every day we go through this means we're one day closer to getting back to normal," said Ball.

Fire officials continued to stress the importance of social distancing in the fight against COVID-19.