Firefighters are asking for the community’s support in pressuring the provincial government to put them on the priority list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when doses become available again.
In a brief presentation to St. Paul town council at the regular meeting Jan. 25, Fire Chief Trevor Kotowich said the volunteer group responds to emergencies and encounters people nearly every day, putting themselves at risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
“We owe it to our volunteers to ensure the highest level of protection is provided to them through personal protective equipment, and ultimately through vaccination. We’re definitely excited about the announcement that medical responders, our EMS colleagues, will now get the vaccine. It is now time to ensure the same level of protection is offered to firefighters who in many instances work right alongside EMS practitioners,” said Kotowich.
Kotowich asked for town council to send letters to both Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and Minister of Municipal Affairs Rick McIver, specifically because EMS was included in the Phase 1 roll out of the vaccine after public pressure.
Asked if the fire department planned to approach other municipalities, Kotowich said he would also be approaching the County of St. Paul and that the fire department in Elk Point is a separate entity.
In a media release dated Jan. 12, the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association applauded the announcement that paramedics were being included in the first stage of the roll out and urged for fire fighters to be eligible for immunization as well.
“The risk to their communities also increases as more firefighters go into isolation, often leaving a department short of trained personnel,” reads the release.
A motion by Coun. Brad Eamon to send the letters of support carried with unanimous consent.