NY EMS leaders call on governor to ensure first responders get vaccine priority
According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, EMS providers come after nursing home residents and staff, and high-risk healthcare workers, in line for the COVID-19 vaccine
Daily Messenger, Canandaigua, N.Y.
CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — Canandaigua Emergency Squad Chief Matt Sproul is urging the community to contact Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state public health commissioner and demand that first responders be included among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
With the COVID-19 vaccine now underway, the governor’s office said New York was expecting to receive an initial allocation of 170,000 vaccines, and expects further allocations in the following weeks.
The Finger Lakes is expected to get 11,150 vaccines initially.
According to the governor’s office, high-risk healthcare workers, nursing home residents and staff are prioritized first to receive the vaccine, followed by other long-term and congregate care staff and residents and EMS and other health care workers.
Sproul, echoing the concerns of other EMS officials across New York, said he understands there is not enough vaccination for everyone and agrees people who work in those fields should be included. But, he said, so should the people who are often inches away from a sick or injured person, not knowing if he or she has COVID, during an emergency situation while transporting them to a hospital in “a little box called an ambulance.”
“It is truly a sad day when the state doesn’t assist the people who are there to help people,” Sproul said. “What would happen if nobody comes when the call is made because we’re all sick, because they won’t give us a vaccination for what is truly crippling the state and the country?”
Cuomo called the vaccination effort a “massive undertaking” when he introduced a draft COVID-19 vaccination administration plan.
In addition to EMS workers, the second phase includes teachers and childcare workers, public health workers, essential workers who interact with the public, long-term care facility patients and those living in other congregate settings, and people who are at particularly high risk because of health conditions.
Sproul said emergency medical service members, of which there are about 60,000 across the state, will continue to use protective equipment, as required, when called.
But he is concerned that EMS crews exposed to patients with COVID-19 may have to be quarantined or get sick themselves.
That poses problems when someone calls 911 for help, and responses are delayed as a result of illness.
Still, there is some confusion on when EMS workers will receive it, but for now, those eligible for the vaccine outnumber the amount of vaccine.
Tom Coyle, chairman of the United New York Ambulance Network, issued a statement Friday thanking Cuomo for ensuring that EMS colleagues across New York will have immediate access to the COVID-19 vaccine once it is made available:
“Our members operate on the frontline of healthcare, routinely traveling between uncontrolled environments and face constant risks of exposure to the novel coronavirus. They require all tools available to provide acceptable protections both to themselves and to the patients and individuals they come in contact with. With personal protective equipment becoming harder to come by, having the ability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine immediately among other Phase 1 recipients will help EMS personnel continue to provide the highest standards of care. We support the Governor’s decision to help keep all of our EMS colleagues safe during these challenging times.”
(c)2020 Daily Messenger, Canandaigua, N.Y.