Submitted by Clark Judge.
KAA president Dan O’Sullivan became the first Ambulance Association member to be vaccinated when he was treated late Wednesday afternoon at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown. O’Sullivan said he contacted the hospital shortly after registering with the CDC at 4:45 p.m. and was examined within an hour after booking its only remaining appointment.
It was for 5:15 to 5:30 p.m.
With Middletown a 20-minute drive away, immediate action was required. So O’Sullivan jumped in his car and rushed to the hospital, where he filled out a registration, waited approximately 10 minutes to be seen and was inoculated.
“It was completely painless,” he said. “I didn’t even feel it when it went in.”
Nor did he experience an adverse reaction. Nevertheless, he was warned that he might experience soreness in the area in his left arm where he was vaccinated and told not to be alarmed. As of Wednesday evening, he said he experienced no such symptoms.
“I feel fine,” he said. “I haven’t felt anything that I could say was a reaction to it.”
O’Sullivan is the first of a wave of Ambulance Association EMTs scheduled to receive immunizations over the next two weeks, with eight already scheduled – including three for Saturday, Jan. 2.
The KAA lists 29 active EMTs and EMRs, some of whom are involved with the Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company. Like the KAA, the Fire Company this week received clearance to receive the first round of vaccinations. According to Fire Chief Richard Bauer, one of its first responders also gained an appointment to receive a vaccination.
“This is great news to know that the vaccine has reached the local levels,” Bauer said on the KVFC’s Facebook page.
Both Bauer and O’Sullivan congratulated local residents for their patience but cautioned that one round of vaccinations is just the beginning. First responders have been told to obtain a second round of immunizations in no fewer than three weeks but soon thereafter.
In the meantime, 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.”
According to the latest e-mail from First Selectwoman Cathy Iino, Killingworth has 121 cases of COVID-19 that are confirmed and 127 deemed probable.