MERCED, California (KGPE) – Around 40 members of the Merced Fire Department joined nursing students and staff at the Merced College COVID-19 vaccination site this week, helping administer vaccines and monitor patients.
“It’s not in our normal job description by any means,” said Merced Fire Chief Derek Parker. “But we have this opportunity to do something that’s just out of the norm, but is right in line with supporting the needs of the community.”
Parker said they have EMTs and two licensed paramedics in their department, many coming in on their days off to help at the vaccination site.
“We do a lot of follow-up, more medical monitoring, and making sure that everybody’s doing well after their shot, talk with them,” said Parker. “It’s an opportunity that we have to interact with somebody not on an emergency basis.”
When patients are screened at the vaccination site, they fall into either a 15-minute or 30-minute post-vaccine wait period, depending on pre-existing health conditions or medications they take.
The firefighters then help monitor them for possible reactions and just talk to them while they wait.
“There been a handful of people who have been really nervous, and we just sit and talk with them, and if that’s the worst thing that happens in their day, then I think we did a pretty good job,” said Parker.