Vaccines to be updated after first responder contracts tetanus

By Sarah Pridgeon

Crook County’s first responders need to receive vaccine updates in order to do their work in safety, says Barb Coy, Public Health Manager. The issue came to light after a first responder contracted tetanus in June.

The first responder, Fort Laramie Volunteer Fire Chief and EMT, was injured after stepping on a nail and delayed seeking medical attention to attend a fire meeting. The muscle contractions caused by the resulting tetanus tore his spine apart, leaving him severely incapacitated and in need of surgery costing around $150,000.

The incident highlighted the necessity of ensuring that all first responders are fully vaccinated, says Coy. To safely work as a first responder, a person requires both Hepatitis A and B vaccines, as well as an up-to-date tetanus booster.

Along with Jim Pridgeon, County Emergency Coordinator, Coy will be requesting that the county’s first responders, including firefighters and EMS workers, complete a form detailing which vaccines they have already received. This information will help determine which vaccines, and in what quantity, are required.

Gari Gill, County Fire Warden, will investigate applying for a grant to fund the vaccines for county fire fighters, while Public Health will look into a grant to fund vaccines for other first responders.

In the past, says Coy, cities have paid to keep their first responders up to date on their vaccines. Public Health will be offering the vaccines at no charge.

The vaccine for hepatitis B consists of three separate shots, with two required for hepatitis A; a combination vaccine is also available, consisting of three shots. Tetanus shots require updating every ten years.