“We have very robust mutual aid agreements and auto-aid agreements with all of our neighboring communities,” said Lino Lakes Public Safety Director John Swenson. “We are well-positioned to provide on-going services with whatever we might face.”
Lino Lakes is unique among most North Metro communities in its public safety model. The fire division boasts nearly two dozen paid full-time firefighters, but that is complimented by a dozen or so cross-trained police officers who can also respond. Swenson said any COVID-19 outbreak within the ranks would disturb the shifts and the ability to respond.
That’s one reason the Minnesota Fire Marshal’s office recently developed an online dashboard to reflect departmental staffing levels reflective of any positive infection tests. Only a few departments in the state are currently facing staffing issues because of COVID infections.
Swenson said mutual aid agreements are a part of doing business, pandemic or not.
“Within the fire industry, in general, thoughout the state…we all need help from our neighbors and that’s just par for the course,” he said.
He said any tools the state can make available, like the two new COVID staffing sites, are helpful for a variety of reasons.
“It’s all about the communication,” Swenson said. “You know, it’s good for us to know if one of our neighboring agencies is having a staffing issue related to a potential outbreak, so we know what we can expect when we go to their jurisdiction or if we have a call where we need additional assistance, we know what we can expect from them.”