Submitted by Clark Judge, KAA.
(Jan. 1, 2021) — After gaining clearance last week to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, at least 13 EMTs with the Killingworth Ambulance Association have been inoculated — with others scheduled to undergo treatment soon.
“Each tech was contacted individually to schedule an appointment,” said Mike Haaga, the KAA’s chief of service. “I do not get a list of who received one, so I know only of the techs who shared that information with me.”
One of 29 active EMTS with the KAA, Haaga is among the 13 immunized in Connecticut’s Phase 1a program, available to first responders at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
KAA president Dan O’Sullivan is another. He was the association’s first EMT to be vaccinated, treated on Dec. 23, at Middlesex Hospital shortly after local first responders and EMTs were given clearance to be immunized.
“It was completely painless,” he said of the injection. “I didn’t even feel it when it went in.”
Techs receive vaccines through a number of avenues. Some, like O’Sullivan, received them through Middlesex Hospital, which has a connection with Killingworth Ambulance, while others obtained them through hospitals where they work. Still others receive them through a vaccination clinic in Old Saybrook, arranged by the Connecticut River Area Health District and coordinated for the KAA by Killingworth’s Health Director, Amy Scholz.
O’Sullivan said he expects those treated in Phase 1a to receive a second round of injections shortly. The Pfizer vaccine requires three weeks between inoculations, while the Moderna vaccine requires four. The type of vaccine varies depending on where techs receive their inoculations.
While the news is encouraging, the KAA will continue to proceed cautiously. All crews responding to calls, for instance, wear protective face masks and gloves as part of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Furthermore, EMTs who treat patients with COVID symptoms — or who are within a residence that had a confirmed COVID case – are required to wear gowns, face shields, gloves and N95 masks instead of surgical face masks.
In addition, Valley Shore dispatch screens all incoming 911 calls to determine if there are symptoms related to COVID-19. If that screen is deemed positive, the KAA forbids EMTs in training from boarding the ambulance and requires on-scene first responders to conduct their own screen before approaching patients.
Radios are used to communicate with persons inside a home to those on the outside.
“This is going to be what continues to happen in terms of procedure,” said O’Sullivan. “Even when we’re all vaccinated, we’re not going to change the protocol. We’re all going to have to take precautionary measures to make sure we’re not spreaders of the virus.
“They (the CDC) think vaccinated people won’t spread the virus, but they don’t yet have proof. So we’re going to have to keep doing what we’re doing until the CDC says the vaccination does protect against a spread or the vaccination program is finished.”