SEATTLE – On Dec. 15 Paramedic Alan Goto – a 22-year veteran of the Seattle Fire Department – became the first department member to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. He received the first shot of the FDA-authorized Pfizer vaccination alongside several other healthcare workers at the UW Medical Center in north Seattle.
“As public servants who have chosen to dedicate ourselves to protecting our community, getting vaccinated is the most relevant thing we can do in this moment to fulfill our commitment to serving the public,” said paramedic Alan Goto.
Alan joined the Seattle Fire Department in 1998 and has spent the last nine years working as a paramedic, responding to patients suffering heart attacks, strokes, major injury, and other critical medical emergencies, including complications from COVID-19. When the pandemic hit the western Washington region in late February 2020, Alan was one of the first fire department members to step up to the challenge of changing the way we serve others.
In April 2020, the City, in partnership with Public Health, began testing those who were suffering the worst consequences from COVID-19: those living in or working at long-term care facilities and adult homes. Alan worked on the department’s Mobile Assessment Teams, which went into these facilities to test patients and staff to help identify COVID-19 clusters and stop outbreaks. He also helped to train the qualified staff at these facilities to be able to manage and maintain their own testing. The Mobile Assessment Teams were recognized nationally as an innovative model for addressing the emerging pandemic.
Finally, once more test kits became available and with public health guidance, the City transitioned to opening community testing sites to conduct tests on the public through a partnership with the UW. Alan has served as one of the nasopharyngeal swabbers at the test sites, which have conducted over 475,000 tests to date, and upwards of 6,000 people per day.
“Alan’s commitment to fulfilling our mission of serving others has been significant during this pandemic. He has dedicated a considerable amount of time testing members of the public as a previous leader of our Mobile Assessment Teams, and works frequently as a nasal swabber at our test sites. And now, I’m so proud of Alan for taking the next step to ending this pandemic – being our first member to get vaccinated,” said Fire Chief Harold Scoggins.
“Our first responders have protected and served our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Alan and so many others at the Seattle Fire Department have led the way to create robust free citywide testing to protect our community,” said Mayor Durkan. “It will take some time to fully vaccinate the public. For now, the best way we can keep our emergency responders safe is by making smart public health choices like avoiding social gatherings and wearing masks. Together, we can keep the spread of COVID-19 low while we work to vaccinate our entire community.”
“The Seattle Fire Department EMTs and the Seattle Medic One paramedics have continued to deliver excellent medical care despite the challenges of exposure to COVID-19,” said Michael Sayre, MD, Medical Director for the Seattle Fire Department. “We are thrilled that our EMS workforce is able to receive this highly effective and safe vaccine. We look forward to the day when everyone can be vaccinated.”
In addition to workers and residents of Long Term Care Facilities, health care workers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics will be among the first vaccinated, due to their position of treating potential COVID-19 positive patients. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, with several weeks in between administration.