Cullman Fire Rescue

Cullman Fire Rescue are seen at the 2016 Rock the South event in Cullman.

With Cullman Regional experiencing overcrowding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Cullman will be providing more first responders to this weekend's Alabama GOP rally.

The Cullman City Council passed a resolution during a special called meeting Thursday morning to declare a State of Emergency due to threat that COVID-19 continues to pose to the city's residents.

The declaration of the State of Emergency allowed the city to provide the additional personnel and equipment for this weekend's political rally after it was requested by Cullman Regional. 

The Alabama Republican Party is hosting former President Donald Trump and other Republican speakers at the York Farms property on Saturday.

Cullman Regional Chief Operating Officer Nesha Donaldson sent a letter to the city Wednesday requesting additional support at the rally, and cited the hospital's overcrowding, bed shortages, labor shortages and an increased strain on Cullman EMS. 

In the letter, Donaldson said the hospital will be providing medical support at the rally, but needs help from the city to be able to maintain better response times for COVID-19 issues and allow for better staffing at the hospital.

The hospital's most recent COVID-19 update on Wednesday afternoon showed that the hospital was treating 56 COVID-19 patients, 12 of whom are on ventilators. The Alabama Hospital Association also announced Wednesday that there were no available ICU beds in Alabama out of the 1,562 units in the state. 

Luke Satterfield, an attorney for the city, said Cullman will be providing fire/EMT and police personnel to handle some of the rally-related health issues — such as dehydration — that may occur on Saturday.

The city will also be providing a 20 feet by 40 foot tent, a generator and air conditioning unit for the rally.

"We want to prevent as many non-Covid related things as possible, so our hospital can use its resources to focus on the pandemic and its variants," he said. "We don't want to put any extra strain on them."

Satterfield said the city appreciates the work that the hospital's staff is doing during the pandemic, and he encouraged the city's residents to get their COVID-19 vaccines and continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus in the community. 

"It's real and we don't want anything bad to happen to our folks," he said. 

Tyler Hanes can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 238.

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