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Forest Service Firefighters Support Vaccination Efforts in Oakland


Seven firefighters assigned to the Lassen National Forest have returned from a 30-day deployment supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Oakland, as part of a large Federal Emergency Management Agency operation.

In mid-February, when FEMA opened its Community Vaccination Centers in Oakland and Los Angeles, it issued a request to state federal agencies to provide trained paramedics and emergency medical technicians for vaccination efforts. The USDA Forest Service and the Lassen National Forest immediately answered that call for support by providing more than 50 trained EMTs in total.

“Regardless if it’s a wildfire or a pandemic, our firefighters are experienced and highly-skilled in emergency response and will bring that skillset to help control the spread of the virus,” said Bill Miller, fire chief of the Lassen National Forest. “Part of the Forest Service’s motto is serving people and that is our primary objective here.”

Assigned to the Major League Baseball stadium in Oakland, the USDA Forest Service and other federal agency partners have the capacity to vaccinate approximately 6,000 Californians each day to support the FEMA’s mission.

Incident response is part of the USDA Forest Service DNA, meaning Lassen NF firefighters were equipped and ready to provide additional support in these vaccination efforts.

“Knowing we were vaccinating teachers and other essential people to get back to a sense of normal was wonderful and heart-warming feeling,” said Marcus Pacheco, a Lassen National Forest assistant fire engine operator, said after completing a 30-day assignment.

Pacheco added that, “being part of a monumental effort to vaccinate a large amount people, will be a highlight in my fire career.”

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