YORK, Maine — Hundreds of licensed emergency medical technicians in York County are receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week.
"Our people have been on the front lines now for over 10 months dealing with COVID patients daily," says Sanford Fire Chief Steve Benotti. "Because we are on the front lines, we believe this is a good place to start, as caretakers that deliver a service to your community each and every day, the proper protection we need to continue to protect you people."
The York County Incident Management Team (IMT) has planned for the arrival of the vaccine and has put in place a structure aiming to ensure rapid delivery.
"No time in the history of our state or country or the world has this kind of immunization project taken off. It's great to see folks come together to get this done," says Roger Hooper, chief fire administrator for York County.
Old Orchard Beach, Sanford, and Kennebunk Fire Departments were selected to store and distribute the vaccine.
Departments across York County have received 400 doses. The team hopes 400 EMS personnel will be vaccinated by the end of the week.
"The sooner we get our people done, the sooner we can get other people done like the remaining firefighters and police officers, and as soon as we can get them done, we can get more people done in nursing homes," says Sanford Fire Chief Steve Benotti.
Benotti says some people have chosen not to get the vaccine, which he finds concerning.
"We put that emphasis on those employees knowing that by doing this, you are putting yourself and the rest of your crew at risk by not taking the vaccination," says Benotti.
While they wait for more vaccine doses to arrive, EMTs have each been given a date for their second dose, and Benotti says they must each make themselves available on that date.