Menlo Park Fire District front line firefighters vaccinated for COVID-19

by Contributed Content on December 27, 2020

Nine months and 3,509 emergency medical responses later, two of the six Menlo Park Firefighter/Paramedics who volunteered to staff one of the first Fire Pandemic Medical Response Units in the nation, became the first Fire District personnel to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Over the last nine months, almost half of the Fire District’s 100 first responders have been tested and/or quarantined due to possible exposures, two firefighters contracted the virus , both of whom survived. But the lessons learned and precautions taken always focused on their health, safety and protecting themselves, each other, their families, and the people they served from getting the virus and becoming sick.

Protocols evolved with knowledge and facts, COVID testing improved, additional equipment was ordered and implemented. Over time, cleaning, better sanitation, face masks, social distancing, clean and dirty uniform procedures were all adopted, refined but more importantly constantly discussed, changed and improved for the better. Eventually, the Pandemic Medical Response Unit was returned to normal duty, as other Menlo fire responders became comfortable with new patient care protocols and safety measures that were put into place.

“Having our six personnel who volunteered to put themselves at a higher risk in order to protect others, when we knew so little, was an important moment that showed their courage, compassion and leadership,” said Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. “That’s why we put them at the front of the line of our front line fire personnel to be vaccinated.”

One third of the Fire District’s 150 total employees, consisting of about 45 support staff and including senior Chief Officers and the Fire Chief himself, are not considered “front line” and will not be vaccinated at this time.

Photo courtesy of Menlo Fire: Engineer/Paramedic Dave Magnan, who was one of six Firefighters to volunteer to staff the Fire Districts Pandemic Medical Response Unit, is vaccinated for COVID 19 by the Fire Districts Medical Manager Melanie Starz 

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