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All hands on deck: One of the largest public health efforts of our time

The NHTSA Office of EMS Offers Just in Time Training Resources for EMS providers playing key roles in community COVID-19 vaccination efforts


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration – Office of EMS recently posted a “Just-in-Time” training resource document to answer questions providers may have about administering vaccinations.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

As our efforts to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine ramp up across the country, EMS providers and other public safety personnel will undoubtedly have an opportunity to participate in a variety of roles needed to conduct an immunization clinic. With millions of citizens eager to get the vaccine, it will be an all-hands-on-deck effort.

I recently volunteered at a county public health mass vaccination clinic. It was a great experience. They did not need me to give injections, so I was happy to help at the registration desk. My wife, who is a nurse practitioner, monitored patients after their injections and helped process insurance information. We both found it to be a very rewarding afternoon as the community members coming through were very appreciative of our efforts. Many voiced their relief that the end of this pandemic was on the horizon and they were happy to both reduce their risk as well as do their part in building herd immunity. We will both be signing up again soon.

When I initially volunteered to help, I had a l little trepidation about giving intramuscular shots to patients that were not having some sort of an emergency. Most of my injection experience has been in administering intramuscular (IM) epinephrine for anaphylaxis. In the face of a life-threatening emergency, those people usually are not too concerned about my technique or if the shot hurt. That is not quite the case for COVID-19 vaccine jabs. Would these people have questions about the vaccine that I could not answer? What is the currently accepted practice for giving an IM immunization? Would my approach be smooth and painless?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration – Office of EMS recently posted a “Just-in-Time” training resource document to answer those questions [Read the document below]. The one-page document provides links to a couple of informative videos from the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) and the Florida Association of EMS Medical Directors as well as vaccine fact sheets, procedure checklists and a sample vaccine administration program manual. The MIEMSS video provided a nice review of all the steps of giving the injection, from identifying the proper site, to safely disposing of the needle and syringe. A quick 10-minute video and I was confident and ready to go.

The resource is a great place to turn for individual EMS providers looking for more information about working in an immunization clinic or for an organization that is going to set up or help operate a vaccination site.

Providing the COVID-19 vaccine is probably one of the largest public health efforts many of us have ever been involved in. The opportunity to be a part of it and help serve my community is going to be a highlight of my career. I hope you will join me.

Stay safe out there.

Read next: “How to lessen a fearful patient’s discomfort.” While starting an IV or giving someone an IM injection doesn’t hurt you – the provider – a bit, that doesn’t mean it’s the most pleasant experience for the recipient

NHTSA Office of EMS Just in Time Training Resources for EMT SARS-CoV-2 Vaccinators

Michael Fraley has over 30 years of experience in EMS in a wide range of roles, including flight paramedic, EMS coordinator, service director and educator. Fraley began his career in EMS while earning a bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University. He also earned a BA in business administration from Lakeland College. When not working as a paramedic or the coordinator of a regional trauma advisory council, Michael serves as a public safety diver and SCUBA instructor in northern Wisconsin.