Beckley fire department gets COVID-19 antibody testing

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The Beckley Fire Department has administrated antibody tests to the entire department to see which firefighters have been exposed to the COVID-19. Fire Chief Edward Wills says the testing will help better serve the community.

“One of the things we were looking at was for an antibody test, we will find out if any of our personnel had it. If someone has the antibodies it doesn’t mean they’re unimmune, but it does mean they’re more than likely to be unimmune. So it’s just another tool in our tools box to protect ourselves and the public,” said Wills.

While the rest of the nation has been ordered to stay at home, first responders have been working through the pandemic. Now the Beckley Fire department is testing their firefighters for COVID-19 antibodies to see if they have ever been exposed to the virus.

“If we have some that comes back positive for the antibody, then if we had to send a crew into a nursing home or high-risk area then I would rather send them in that facility with the antibodies because they are less likely to be carrying the virus with the antibodies,” said Wills.

Beckley Fire Department Chief Edward Wills says all 43 members of the department have been tested for COVID-19 antibodies. 21 tests have come back negative and the remaining tests are still pending.

“I’m surprised that we haven’t had any yet. In the last four days, we had 40 medical calls. You put our people in contact with the public I thought it would be likely but that’s not the case,” said Wills.

The fire department will receive all test results by tomorrow.