Maryland’s interagency firefighters and emergency medical technicians, usually deployed to help fight wildland fires nationwide, have completed several deployments to assist mass COVID vaccination efforts in Maryland and other East Coast states.
Maryland provided 20 Incident Management Team members and Emergency Medical Technicians to staff this mission. The majority of those deployed were volunteers. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), through the Maryland Forest Service, manages and oversees these deployments as part of a national agreement.
“Our interagency firefighters stand ready to fight wildfires around the nation, but this year they helped prevent a different kind of disaster from spreading,” Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “These seasoned emergency responders answered the call to save American lives and support Maryland’s successful effort to get people vaccinated against COVID. We are also extremely proud of our Natural Resources Police and other DNR personnel who are contributing to Maryland’s COVID response and recovery missions.”
Beginning in February, deployments were sent out of state to Dover, Del.; Woonsocket, R.I.; and a dispatch assignment in Harrisburg, Pa. In-state operations were sent to Easton, Waldorf, and a Mobile Vaccination Task Force to oversee six mobile vaccination teams to reach isolated and non-mobile communities throughout the state.
DNR also provided Natural Resources Police assistance to a Somerset County Health Department vaccine delivery by boat to Smith Island.
The deployments were part of Maryland’s resoundingly successful vaccination effort. More than 2.9 million Marylanders are now fully vaccinated and over 6 million people have received their first vaccination. Given this progress, Governor Hogan has announced that the state’s mass vaccination sites have begun a phased demobilization process. As these sites prepare to close, additional resources are being directed to mobile clinics, community-based activities, and local providers. A complete list of vaccine providers—including those providing Pfizer for individuals aged 12 to 17—can be found at covidvax.maryland.gov.