The first few dozen San Diego Fire-Rescue Department firefighters received the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday morning and one of the agency’s leaders said it will help the department better serve the community.
“It’s extremely important not just for their own individual health and protection, but the better we can stay healthy, the better we can protect the public and that’s really what we want to be able to do,” said SDFD Chief Colin Stowell.
About 300 EMTs, lifeguards and firefighters from San Diego, Imperial Beach, Coronado, National City, Poway and Chula Vista departments are expected to receive their first dose during the rollout, according to Stowell. He called the process “streamlined” and “very efficient,” and told NBC 7 he is relieved personnel were given the vaccine so they could protect themselves while catering to the community’s emergencies.
“We are exposed to everything and we are the first responders in that door and sometimes not knowing what we’re going to be exposed to,” he said.
“If we’re exposed and get sick, that definitely affects our ability to continue that service,” Stowell concluded.
Firefighter paramedics administered the shot to their peers after undergoing a four-hour training course from the county. Stowell said while crews already know how to administer vaccines, they were given additional training in handling, drying, storing and tracking the inventory of the COVID-19 doses.
SDFD was able to be among the first several groups in San Diego County to receive the vaccine because all firefighters are trained EMT’s and paramedics, which are listed in the state’s 1A tier to receive the vaccination.
“It’s essential for our folks, who are, again, the first responders, first in the door, treating these patients face-to-face,” Stowell explained. “It’s important that all of our workforce receives this so that, again, we can continue to protect the community at all levels that we do.”