Rural volunteer firefighters are as soon as once more asking to be handled like different emergency responders and be included on the precedence listing for COVID-19 immunization.
“Many, many hearth departments are the primary departments on scene for medical calls. There’s no EMS stationed in Penhold. We arrive on scene first. We are those who’ve the primary affected person contact so it solely would make sense that we be on the vaccination precedence listing,” mentioned Penhold hearth chief Jim Pendergast.
The Alberta Firefighters Association continues to urge the province to embody all firefighters in Alberta in Phase 2C of the phased immunization program. So far solely paramedics, police and corrections officers and sheriffs are included.
Earlier this yr, the affiliation mentioned it was informed by authorities that: “Phase 2 is estimated to start in April, relying on vaccine provide, and can proceed to give attention to Albertans who’re at elevated danger of COVID-19 illness. Planning is underway for this part and focused populations will be communicated in early 2021.”
Pendergast mentioned crews have responded to over 20 COVID medical calls in latest months, however solely about eight hearth medics are eligible for immunization out of 37-member volunteer hearth crew.
“We go to each name ready (for COVID) since you don’t know. Sometimes the data isn’t out there to us, or typically it comes a bit too late, so we’re at all times ready for no matter we go to.”
He mentioned thus far, firefighters haven’t been uncovered on the job, however some have whereas away from the firehall. When that occurs, complete crews should isolate for 2 weeks.
“We agree 100 per cent that police, paramedics and different emergency responders ought to be (a precedence) however firefighters ought to be on the very same stage as a result of we’re there first,” Pendergast mentioned.
A press release from Alberta Health mentioned due to the restricted vaccine provide, seniors and others most liable to extreme outcomes, and people who work immediately with them, proceed to be the main target of the COVID immunization program.
“We acknowledged that firefighters and volunteer firefighters, in addition to many others, would profit from receiving the vaccine, and we wish to supply it to them as quickly as attainable,” the assertion mentioned.
Firefighters aged 65 and older are actually eligible for the vaccine, and people with underlying circumstances, together with diabetes, will obtain it in Phase 2B.
“We will proceed increasing the rollout as extra vaccines arrive. Decisions on Phase 3 haven’t but been made.”
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