BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — “We are going to end up being in harm's way,” Andrew Freeborn with Kern County Fire said. “We are putting ourselves into a close proximity with individuals with communicable diseases.”
And in order to ease those concerns for these firefighters, who are always first on the scene, Freeborn says that first responders were part of phase one of the statewide vaccine distribution. They had about 165 of their 650 personnel receive their first dose Monday.
And over at Hall Ambulance, Mark Corum says around 65 of their 475 employees opted to receive the Moderna vaccine. Corum says, “Each vial of the vaccine can provide 10 doses. And so we don't want to waste any of that once it's open, so we ensure that we have 10 paramedics EMT’s or RN’s together as a group who go and get the vaccine at the same time.”
But both Freeborn and Corum stress that all vaccines are voluntary. Freeborn says, “you can imagine some people feel not so comfortable to take it, others feel ok to take it. And that really drives home the point that medical treatment is each individual person's decision.”
And while they work through the pandemic, Corum says the call volumes are up. He says, “December of last year we ran 8,894 calls and were not at the end of the month and we're looking closer to 9,700 calls this month.”
Freeborn says his staff has recorded more overtime on record this year, as their limited staff was stretched thin through California's worst fire season on top of the pandemic. So they hope vaccines will help with that issue. Freeborn says, “It’s been a tremendous amount of work this year. We desperately need more employees. That’s a simple statement there.”