Chattanooga firefighters found a man covered with insects believed to be bedbugs at a unit of the J.C. Towers during a medical call Monday night.
As a result of responding to the call, the fire truck was decontaminated and is now taped off. All clothing worn by the firefighters was bagged up and decontaminated, Chief Randy Parker said.
He said in another recent incident that a bug was spotted on a mattress at one of the fire halls and it went into the mattress. He said all the mattresses at that firehall were replaced.
Firefighters were summoned to the senior high-rise at 500 W. Martin Luther King Blvd. shortly before 6 p.m.
Quint 2 responded from Station 1. The patient was found lying on the floor when firefighters arrived. The patient was prepared for transport and handed off to Hamilton County EMS. The firefighters said the patient was covered with bedbugs. After finishing up their treatment of the patient, three firefighters said they had bug bites on their legs.
As a precaution, the personnel on Quint 2 advised the department’s safety officer of the situation and returned to Station 1. Upon arrival, the safety officer instructed the firefighters to lay out a tarp in the bay and get out of their turnout gear on the tarp. The tarp was then rolled up and taken away, where it would be treated for insect infestation. Quint 2 was taken to the Training Center, where it would be treated as well.
Officials said, "It is important to note that we have not confirmed that the insects involved are 'bedbugs. The fire department is taking action, regardless and treating the situation as an infestation. Quint 2 and all the turnout gear will be treated for the infestation, and a pest control company is being sent to Station 1 to inspect the facility for any signs of infestation. The firefighters are also being supplied with protective coveralls, which they will wear when they deem it appropriate for the situation. The coveralls are cheap and can either be reused or discarded."