New housing, food services option for Birmingham area first responders who need to quarantine

New housing, food services option for Birmingham area first responders who need to quarantine
(Source: YMCA)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - - The YMCA of Greater Birmingham and Jefferson County Unified Command (Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency and Jefferson County Department of Health) will provide housing and food services to benefit the EMS workers, firefighters and other essential personnel who need to quarantine in a safe and secure location.

“Early in the pandemic the entire nation showed overwhelming appreciation for the healthcare heroes,” says Dan Pile, YMCA President and CEO. “We must not let our love and support subside as if this is a new normal. No day is normal for our front line workers. This is our way of continuing to support those who care for us.”

“Every day many calls are placed to the 911 Centers in Jefferson County. Each call generates a response of some type; in many cases that means a First Responder (Fire, EMS, or Law Enforcement) will soon arrive at the scene. COVID-19 has caused a type of risk that was not a consideration a year ago; First Responders may now be exposed to the virus as they perform their duties. This exposure may dictate that the First Responder be quarantined to determine if they have been infected with COVID-19”, according to Jim Coker, Director, Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency.

The YMCA is offering Camp Cosby as a housing location for first reponders to stay until they receive the results of their COVID-19 testing and are released from quarantine.

Located in Alpine, AL and only 45 minutes from Birmingham, workers will be able to stay comfortably in private, air conditioned cabins on the shores of Logan Martin Lake to quarantine safely away from their families.

“We’ve successfully finished the summer operating summer sleep away camp for six weeks,” said Steve Merifield, Executive Director of Camp Crosby. “Our protocols and our operation, and everything that we’ve done to safely operate without an outbreak, made us think a little bit more about what we could do. What we have is 18 individual cabins with air conditioning, bathrooms, showers. And one person would be able to take advantage of that cabin.”

Eighteen individual cabins will be available to minimize cross contamination and the YMCA will also provide food service directly to cabins to avoid exposure to the virus. In addition to weekly cabin sanitation by a third party professional service, the YMCA will provide scheduled self-service laundry.

The YMCA is dedicating YMCA Camp Cosby at no charge to County or individual workers.

The service will start on August 10, 2020, by referral from the Jefferson County Department of Health.

“We at the Jefferson County Department of Health would like to take this opportunity to thank our first responders for the amazing jobs they do throughout our community and for the YMCA for providing a means to help our responders in this trying time. It is a big benefit to our community to have organizations like the YMCA who can step up in times of need. It is critical to keep our community healthy during COVID 19 and to bring all resources into that effort,” said Jonathan Stanton, Jefferson County Department of Health.

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