By CBS3 Staff


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – First responders in Philadelphia are doing their part in keeping people safe, on the frontlines as they respond to the virus. Eyewitness News spoke to Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, who also serves as the director for the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management.

Q: Commissioner, thank you for the work you and your teams are doing to keep Philadelphians safe. As we all try to do our part to stop the spread of this virus, what do you think remains the biggest challenge for those on the front lines?

Well, you know, our mission really doesn’t stop. The women and men of the fire department and also emergency management have quite literally been working around the clock before and after this COVID crisis arose to deliver service across our city. Now, we are just doing a lot of different things. The way people can help is by staying at home and helping us flatten the curve.

Q: You shared some photos from the Office of Emergency Management center last week. How big of a coordination effort the city is dealing with daily?

You know, it’s a huge coordination effort. And I’m so proud to be part of it, and honored. We have so many different partners, both city agencies, other organizations, all working together, every day, constantly to help feed kids, help feed people who have food insecurity, of course, continue to do our fire EMS mission, all of the other things the city does. So folks have really stepped up, as we do as the city of Philadelphia, to help each other out during this crisis.

Q: People are being told to stay at home and to continue to practice social distancing. What’s your message for Philadelphians?

Well truly, when we say stay at home, we mean that – stay at home, stay informed, you can visit the city’s website at Phila.gov and to our COVID-19 page from there. You can also text COVID PHL to 888-777 and get regular updates about changes in the COVID-19 situation.

So, help us flatten the curve. Stay home, take care of families, take care of your neighbors, of course, social distancing – do that from six feet away, and we will all get through this.

Q: We know how important personal protective equipment is for emergency workers around this country. Talk to us about your own teams here in Philadelphia and the steps being taken to keep these first responders safe?

We have a group of dedicated folks across city government who have been working together to procure PPE and what we know as a nationwide shortage. Not just for our agencies, but really for across the health care enterprise in the city. So they’re continuing to do that. You might see our folks wearing higher level of PPE than they normally would. They might be wearing their breathing apparatus, different types of masks. So just give them a minute, recognize they are trying to protect you as much as they are trying to protect themselves, as we all work through this novel situation.