Members of the Cambridge Area EMS are being vaccinated for Covid-19 at drive-through clinics at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
Cambridge EMS Director Bob Salov said he got his first shot on Dec. 29, the very first day that vaccines were administered in Dane County to non-hospital workers.
“I was in the first batch,” Salov said. He is scheduled to receive his second on Jan. 19.
Salov said most of the 15-member Cambridge EMS, that currently includes full-time and part-time paramedics and paid-on-call staff, have gotten their first dose in recent weeks.
Salov said the invitation for EMS members to make a vaccine appointment at the Alliant Energy Center came through Public Health Madison & Dane County. He said he was requested to submit contact information for Cambridge personnel “and then Public Health took over.”
Salov said he suffered no side effects from the first shot, other than a sore arm “like after you get a flu shot.”
He said Cambridge EMS won’t loosen its Covid-19 safety precautions any time soon, despite the vaccines. Precautions include wearing N95 masks, gloves, gowns and face shields, and continual “super disinfecting,” of ambulances and the EMS station.
“We’re not giving up on that,” Salov said. “It’s going to be awhile before we can safely say we’re not contagious.”
He said in the past month, the department has additionally begun using power air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) to protect themselves and patients from Covid-19. PAPRs are a hooded whole breathing system that filters the air that EMS members are breathing in and also filters their exhalations.
Salov said PAPRs have been necessary since Covid-19 calls began to spike in late fall.
“A lot of our calls are Covid positive right now,” he said.
He said the Dane County dispatch center screens calls and if there is an indication of Covid-19 in a patient, PAPRs are used.
Salov said no one on the Cambridge EMS has tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic began. He called that a testament to a staff commitment to make safe choices on duty and off.
The vaccines come as the Cambridge EMS awaits final state approval of it being licensed as a paramedic department; that is expected later this winter.
Salov said the EMS staff have made him “very proud” this year.
“They are just heroes,” he said. “They are taking the extra time and energy to protect patients and each other and themselves, and our community, by taking all these precautions. It’s working well, and we have been able to serve the community and to do a good job. I am really proud of our service.”