Calls for firefighters in Louth to be given a greater priority in vaccine rollout

Michelle O'Keeffe

Reporter:

Michelle O'Keeffe

Email:

michelle.okeeffe@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Calls for firefighters in Louth to be given a greater priority in vaccine rollout

There have been calls for firefighters in Louth to be given a greater priority in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Sinn Fein councillor Joanna Byrne said that firefighters should be in the same category as frontline healthcare workers as they are relied on to assist the medical services.

Cllr Byrne, speaking at the recent Louth County Council meeting, highlighted that Louth is one of the worst hit counties by Covid-19 and our hospitals are under immense pressure and said firefighters who are assisting medical services need to be protected.

Louth County Council is calling on the Minister for Health to give a greater priority to firefighters in the vaccination rollout.

Cll Byrne tabled a motion at the local authority meeting saying: "Calling on Minister Stephen Donnelly to review the rollout of vaccines and expedite the place of firefighters and other essential local authority staff, like those in homeless services, water services who cannot work from home and have to come in contact with other people as part of their day to day duties.

“Louth has consistently been one of the worst hit counties with Covid-19 cases, our hospitals are at breaking point and our firefighters are and will continue to be relied upon to assist the medical services in this county.

“It is imperative they are considered in the same category as frontline healthcare workers and protected in order to allow them continue providing the invaluable service they do for our communities."

Cllr Byrne highlighted that 23 members of Louth fire service have been out of work temporarily over the last six weeks due to Covid-19 matters.

She said the minister last week expedited firefighters in the regions of Dublin City Council up to category two and  “thankfully they will receive their vaccines this week alongside frontline healthcare workers.

Cllr Byrne said that Louth fire service also assists on medical and ambulance calls and should be moved up to category two.

“The firefighters are way down the pecking order in the list of vaccines rollout in category six with key workers as opposed where I believe they should be in category two alongside frontline healthcare workers”, she said.

“Our own fire service personnel in Louth do assist ambulance calls and medical assists.

“We are in a region where we have two hospitals.

“Our Lady of Lourdes has been under severe strain over the pandemic and may continue to come under strain in the near future.

“I believe to relieve that burden the fire service will be called upon, and have been called upon and will continue to be called upon.

“I think it is unfair of us to expect them to work in this line of work when we are not protecting them.”

Councillor Emma Coffey supported the motion saying “it is very important that all firefighters should be prioritised, particularly as they are assisting medical staff”.