The last time CochraneNow spoke with Fire Chief, Shawn Polley about vaccinations was back in January and he had said that the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association was advocating hard for the Alberta government to have firefighters moved up on the vaccination list of recipients.

Fast forward four months and just last week it was announced that firefighters would be eligible in Phase 2C of the vaccine rollout. Regarding the announcement, Chief Polley says, “Certainly from the Town of Cochrane Fire Services position, it’s very relieving actually. We feel very strongly about the importance of our frontline firefighters in the chain of care for our citizens and certainly being included in Phase 2 is a big step in the right direction.”

However, over the past four months, there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work being done in Cochrane to get firefighters moved up on the vaccination rollout list for the sake of everyone’s safety.

Chief Polley says Mayor Genung had sent a letter of support to Minister Shandro, on the subject back on Apr. 1, as well as another letter through the Alberta Mid-sized Cities Mayor’s Caucus on Apr. 19.

Polley says, “So, it’s great that the province has certainly adopted all firefighters as a profession, but certainly the Town of Cochrane had a jumpstart."

That jumpstart included finding some great language around the Medical First Response Program which the town has been involved with for several years.

Polley adds, “We actually started providing a letter of employment in support of the firefighters as an important line starting on April 19. It was that program that allowed us to support our members through vaccination clinics through local pharmacies.”

Fortunately, many of the local pharmacies accepted the letter of employment that advocated that firefighters provide a certain level of service in the healthcare setting which in turn allowed for local firefighters to get a shot in the arm faster than waiting for phase 2C.

Chief Polley says that things are moving right along with vaccinations for members and that there has been a great response. He figures about 80 per cent of the members have received their first vaccination shot.

Polley adds that there has been a big push to get shots in the arms of firefighters, but he adds that it is just one part of a much larger strategy to make sure that they always have a good, safe workplace for their employees.