BAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor Fire Department will administer COVID-19 vaccines to all Hancock County first responders with help from Blue Hill-based Peninsula Ambulance Corps. After learning how to provide PCR tests to essential workers, the fire department participated in the additional training needed to vaccinate other emergency staff.
Ongoing since Dec. 1, the fire department has been performing COVID-19 tests on essential town personnel. Firefighters in Bar Harbor were trained to conduct the nasal swab test and send it away for testing, so learning came easy when instructed how to administer the vaccine.
Assistant Chief John Lennon explained how the department is in phase one of a soft rollout where they are vaccinating only licensed Emergency Medical Service providers. After vaccinating all the EMS workers who want one, the Fire Department will move on to vaccinating other firefighters and law enforcement personnel, but more doses of the vaccine will be required.
“Peninsula [Ambulance Corps] got 100 vaccines that they were instructed to split in half, so we got 50,” he said.
Until the Bar Harbor firefighters are shipped more vaccines, the department will continue offering them in phases based on employee exposure. Although not everybody in the group wants the vaccine, they currently need more for the first phase of shots to EMS providers in the county. “Some say, ‘I’m all set, no thank you,’ but our crew wanted to do it for the public safety and employees of the town,” said Lennon.
The shots are being administered at the Bar Harbor Fire Station until there are enough vaccines for the department to travel out of town to distribute
“After this soft opening at the fire station, we will have a vaccine campaign where we will travel around to different sites in Ellsworth and Franklin,” said Lennon. There should be enough shots available for all first responders within the next few weeks.
Fire Chief Matt Bartlett said he was honored the fire department was given the opportunity to help the community.
“Our fire department has persevered from the start and worked right through the pandemic every day with good attitudes,” he said. Bartlett emphasized how proud he was of these first responders for doing what is necessary to be a part of the solution.