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First Responders Step Up Again . . . This Time, for a Vaccine

January 13, 2021

First responders refer to each other as “brothers and sisters. Now that Hartford HealthCare (HHC) acknowledges it considers them “an extension” of its system, that family is even bigger.

The comments Jan. 13 from Keith Grant, APRN, Hartford HealthCare’s Senior System Director of Infection Prevention came moments before a ceremonious vaccination at the Hartford Convention Center of many firefighters, police officers, paramedics and others working in communities across the state. More than 3,000 first responders have been vaccinated so far.

Standing beside a sign saying “Wherever you stand, we stand with you,” Grant relayed an exchange he heard when he stopped to help a woman who was suicidal on the side of the highway. When she asked the police officer there with them why he wouldn’t just let her die, he said, “Family doesn’t let family die.”

“We’ve adopted Connecticut as family at Hartford HealthCare and EMS is an extension of that,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, HHC has strengthened its relationship with area emergency medical services (EMS) who are often the first to come into contact with someone sick with COVID-19, according to Dr. Charles Johndro, director of EMS for the system.

That included providing extra personal protection equipment (PPE) when supplies were strained, then testing first responders for the virus. The next step, Dr. Johndro said, was to offer them vaccine as early as possible.

“It’s protection and to show our appreciation for the work they do,” he said.

Many of the first responders came to the vaccine clinic at the Convention Center wearing shirts emblazoned with the word “United,” noted Hartford Fire Department Lt. Jason Dias, who is also president of the local union.

“We’ve come together to fight this disease,” he said.

Vaccination clinics across the state – with more planned to open soon as the state expands eligible categories to include those age 75 and older starting next week – HHC President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks is the latest segment in a “massive undertaking to move from testing to vaccination.”

“I am optimistic that HHC will be a leader in this country,” he said.