The UC Davis Fire Department’s student EMTs and firefighters are seeing emotion on both sides of the needle at the Davis campus’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic where the fire personnel are administering the bulk of the shots.
“I had two people who were beginning to tear up because they were just so excited and that it was the light at the end of the tunnel,” said student EMT Rachael Ramirez, a senior majoring in sociology. “This vaccine for many brings a lot of hope. So many people have suffered and so many people are still suffering, so anything I can do to help, I will.”
To be making history as part of the vaccine distribution effort is “humbling,” Ramirez said. As of last week, the Davis campus vaccine clinic had distributed 1,767 doses — around 200 per day since the clinic opened Feb. 1.
“The EMTs are essential to our vaccination clinic, and we could not do this without them,” said Cindy Schorzman, medical director of Student Health and Counseling Services. “They are incredible to work with, and this partnership is the reason that we are a significant step closer to helping our campus and our community resume normal activities.”
Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht — who has given some vaccines alongside other department personnel — said he’s happy to help.
“The opportunity to be vaccinators, for me and many at UCDFD, is a great feeling of breaking the operational cycle we have been in for almost a year now,” Trauernicht said. “We get to move the ball forward — not just be reacting — it’s brought as much joy to us as it does to people getting the vaccine.”
Ramirez said she always enjoys helping people as a student EMT, but vaccinating Aggies against COVID-19 is completely different. “I can say that I don’t even consider this work,” she said.
The student EMTs are still continuing other work, teaching CPR and Stop the Bleed courses, and transporting students to temporary housing if they have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19.
But giving COVID-19 vaccines is quite a bit different — and something the students are grateful to be a part of, said student EMT Amanda Sieverts, a junior majoring in neurobiology, physiology and behavior.
“It feels so rewarding to be a part of the UC Davis vaccine clinic and to be an employee of the UCD Fire Department,” she said.
She added that the vaccine clinic has an upbeat atmosphere.
“So far, almost everyone I have vaccinated has been thrilled to get the COVID vaccine,” Sieverts said. “I have received lots of comments saying, ‘I have never been so excited to get a shot before!’”
But while the clinics are fun, they are also deeply meaningful, she said.
“Being a part of this, even in a small way, is so exciting,” she said. “It will be amazing to tell my future kids that I was able to vaccinate the public as a college student during the pandemic.”