by TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
If any profession is equipped to adapt to the unpredictable and ever-shifting risks presented by the pandemic, firefighters are at the front of the line, says Jason Moore, chief of the Bloomington Fire Department.
“A lot of people don’t realize that we are, technically, professional risk managers,” says Moore, 38. “When it came to COVID, we were used to having to make decisions with limited information and adapting to the new information as it comes in, which is exactly what we did.”
With the strategic help of Deputy Chief Jayme Washel and Logistics Officer Bob Loviscek, Moore says his first priority was to see that the department was stable, stocked with personal protective equipment (PPE), and adopting enhanced protocols to protect their health and safety. Moore worked closely
with other City departments, as well as with the fire chiefs of surrounding counties, to run what-if scenarios and make sure they were all on the same page.
“If any one of us fell to COVID, it would be a burden on the rest of us,” Moore says. “For us, it was really, ‘What can we do to make our firefighters safe, our City employees safe, our community safe?’”
Seeing the need to get at least 1,000 masks to City employees during the countrywide PPE shortage, Moore worked to help the Bloomington Fabric Mask Drive. “I think my primary role through COVID is being a dot connector and helping people get what they need.”
The father of three school-age children, Moore and his wife Jennifer faced the same sudden challenges of virtual school as other parents—in addition to Moore taking several new daily safety precautions before greeting his family after work. Three members of his extended family have been diagnosed with the virus in other states—two of whom were hospitalized. “It’s difficult being in a place where we’re being very proactive and seeing what their communities were doing differently and how it was spreading. It’s difficult to be unable to help family.”
But 2020 has also had its rewards. “I couldn’t be prouder of how our department has risen to the challenge and dealt with this community event, learned on the go,” says Moore.