Optimism growing as more first responders get vaccinated against COVID-19

PITTSBURGH — The fear that many first responders have of bringing COVID-19 home to their families is going away as more and more departments are getting shots into arms.

“There’s probably not a week that goes by that we don’t save a life,” said Wendell Hissrich, director of Pittsburgh Public Safety.

Firefighters, police officers and paramedics were left out of the state’s Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout and felt like they were left in the dark. After a long year, there is hope for many departments in the region.

“We’re about 90-92% on EMS, 75% on fire and about 50% on police. We’re hoping to increase that,” Hissrich said.

“I would say almost all of our officers who want the vaccine have gotten both doses,” said Brian Kohlhepp with Ross Township Police Department. “A lot of our officers are caring for elderly parents or have children or a spouse who is high-risk so knowing it’s something we’re not bringing back home to our families.”