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County fire chief advocating for COVID-19 vaccinations

County of Grande Prairie Fire Chief Dan Verdun has received council support advocating to be included in the vaccination process.

Fire Chief Dan Verdun says council has been very supportive in the process but is asking the province to recognize that firefighters are front-line workers.

“We would have hoped it was recognized very early on, unfortunately for whatever rationale it wasn’t, and we are not 100 per cent sure why it wasn’t.”

Verdun says they are often first on-scene and are providing medical services and pre-hospital care to patients. He adds it should be understood that calls such as medical response poses a higher risk for firefighters, many of whom are volunteers.

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“This is a second job for them,” Verdun says bluntly. “That assumption of risk could be mitigated if we allowed our firefighters to be recognized and provide them with vaccines.”

His pleas come just weeks after the President of the Grande Prairie Firefighters Association suggested the province has made a mistake in not listing fire officials as part of the latest COVID-19 vaccination phase.

At their meeting Monday, council voted unanimously to back the request of fire officials to have County of Grande Prairie Reeve Leanne Beaupre write a letter to Minister of Health Tyler Shandro, advocating for the vaccines to be administered for fire fighters across the region.

The Province of Alberta is currently in Phase 2C of its vaccine rollouts, which covers approximately 240,000 healthcare workers, including paramedics, across Alberta.

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