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WPB Fire Chief: First responders should be among the first to get the COVID vaccine

State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis agrees with WPB Fire Chief that the CDC should include firefighters in the group of people considered the top priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available.

West Palm Fire Chief Diana Matty says her first responders continue to respond to COVID-19 calls and some of them have tested positive for the virus.
Chief Matty says all of her fire fighters and paramedics are now equipped with the N-95 masks which officer top-of-the-line protection from the virus.
Chief Matty also says she can’t wait until the first responders are able to receive the vaccine which should help protect them from infection. She says they will be among the first groups to receive the coronavirus vaccine once the FDA gives emergency approval on December 10th.

President Donald Trump speaks with first responders at West Palm Beach Fire Rescue, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, in West Palm Beach, Fla. President Trump who is spending the holidays at his private Mar-a-Lago estate and club in Florida thanked them for their service. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In March, Chief Matty was concerned about a shortage of PPE’s, but now her department has plenty of masks.
In fact, at that time none of her paramedics or fire fighters had contracted or tested positive for COVID-19 despite responding to numerous calls. She says today that several of her rescue workers have contracted the coronavirus, but fortunately the symptoms from this second wave are not as severe as they were six months ago. Chief Matty says everyone wears a mask even when responding to a traffic accident and adheres to proper protocol.

In addition, she says there has been an increase in 911 calls asking for transport due to complications from the illness. She says people with comorbidities go downhill fast and need help quickly adding that in addition to calling an ambulance, you can present to the nearest emergency room if you are having breathing problems. But again, symptoms seem more mild.

Also, with 2020 Atlantic hurricane season officially ended, Chief Matty reminds West Palm Beach residents to take down your hurricane shutters because they prevent fire fighters from gaining entry into your home should a fire break out.

Listen to the full interview here.
WPB Fire Chief Matty

State Fire Marshal and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include firefighters in the group of people considered the top priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available.

Currently, hospital workers, outpatient clinic employees, home health care workers, pharmacy workers, emergency medical services staff and public health staff are first in line to receive the vaccine once it’s available.

Firefighters, police officers, transportation workers and utility workers are among the second group of people prioritized by the CDC to receive the vaccine.

Click here to see the CDC’s latest COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans.

The state fire marshal, in his letter to the CDC this week, says, “Frankly, treating our heroes as though all they do is shoot water from a truck demonstrates an incredible lack of understanding of what is expected of today’s professional firefighter. Of the over 38,000 career firefighters in Florida, 90 percent are paramedic or EMT certified.”