By RENE J. ROY
PORT AUX BASQUES – With the first phase of vaccinations nearing completion, the provincial government has laid out plans for Phases Two and Three. Registration has already begun for those in Phase Two, with vaccinations expected to begin sometime in April.
One of the groups identified in Phase Two is firefighters, both career and volunteer. For Todd Strickland, Assistant Fire Chief for the Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department, it’s welcome news.
Strickland is also a front line worker in the Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Center. As such, he has already received his first shot of the vaccine.
“I would encourage all firefighters to get the vaccine,” he states via an online interview, but adds, “I can’t say with certainty that all firefighters will take it.”
Strickland admits that with so many variables, and with the now three types of vaccines on the government approval lists, “I understand if firefighters are reluctant to receive it.”
Volunteer firefighter Josh Ingram has no hesitation whatsoever about choosing to get vaccinated.
“Most definitely,” was his response as to whether or not he’d be booking a vaccination appointment.
Although Ingram admits to being a bit surprised that firefighters are included in Phase Two, he says he agrees with it wholeheartedly.
“We are indeed front line in an emergency situation.”
He also notes some concerns about side effects, but his priority is the safety and well being of those he comes into contact with, starting first and foremost with his loved ones.
“I do question some of the supposed long term effects, but I’m more concerned with the health and well being of my 6-year-old girl, and 7-month-old boy. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”
Strickland agrees, and says that he is more than willing to help clear up any questions.
“I would speak to the firefighters about the efficiency and percentages put forward on the vaccines and/or direct them to places to research themselves to ensure they make informed decisions on the topic.”
Chief Jerry Musseau admits that the pandemic has been creating challenges for the department.
“Until we are out of this lockdown we will not be doing any training or orientation with new members or any member at this time.”
Musseau says that even though none of the members of the Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department has contracted the virus, there are contingency plans in place should an outbreak occur.
“If this should happen we would have to follow the rules of the public health authority that are in place. If we end up in isolation due to a member testing positive, we have to rely on our outlying fire departments for backup in the event of an emergency. We do have mutual aid agreements in place with all the other (regional) fire departments.”
It remains unclear just when or how fire department, and others who qualify under Phase Two, will be able to get their vaccines.