BAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor Fire Department has partnered with Blue Hill-based Peninsula Ambulance Corps to administer COVID-19 vaccines to Hancock County first responders. 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 it is vaccinating only licensed Emergency Medical Services 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,” Lennon said.
Although not everyone in the phase one group wants the vaccine, more doses are needed to inoculate all the EMS providers that do. “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 members 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 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.
Peninsula Ambulance Corps received its first shipment of vaccines in late December. Twenty EMS responders from Peninsula Ambulance, Memorial Ambulance and Bucksport received the vaccine in the first week of clinics.