RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — Responding to call after call, the work has been nonstop for emergency medical technicians and paramedics during the coronavirus pandemic.
“She’s exhausted,” Elaine Herde said of her wife Laura. “She’s frustrated. She’s scared.”
Herde, who works as an EMT in the emergency room at Riverside Community Hospital received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine weeks ago. Laura, a paramedic with AMR’s Hemet Pass Region, has not despite the fact that she is supposed to be one of the first in line, according to the federal government’s vaccine tier system.
“My opinion, she’s more frontline than me,” Herde said. “I’m not in people’s houses, I’m not sitting in the back of an ambulance.”
Laura, who spends hours on end in ambulances, worries about bringing the deadly virus home to her wife and their 5-year-old triplets.
“I’m in a controlled area,” Herde said. “She’s not. It’s not fair.”
Laura said she and her coworkers felt utterly discouraged that their workplace hasn’t given them any timeline for when their vaccines will be ready.
“They had an email saying it was coming, and then another email that said it could be as early as Monday,” Herde said. “And today it’s Monday, and she’s still received no word whatsoever. None of them have.”
Global Medical Response, the company that oversees AMR released a statement Monday that said, in part:
“We are working with local and state officials to ensure our employees have the opportunity to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. Some of our employees have already been vaccinated, while others await direction from local and state health departments.”
Riverside County said it started offering vaccines to first responders, including those with AMR, last week and urged any healthcare worker unable to get answers from their employers to contact the county.
“It’s nice that my hospital I work for is taking care of us, but why is their company not taking care of them,” Herde said. “Are they expendable? I don’t think so.”
Riverside County also said it was rolling out vaccine clinics for healthcare workers later this week.