Incident Management Team dispatched to a COVID incident

A Type 1 Incident Management Team is being mobilized on a COVID-19 assignment.

COVID response incident management team
Incident Management Team member gets vaccinated as she is being mobilized.

Pacific Northwest Type 1 Incident Management Team 3 led by Incident Commander Randy Johnson has been mobilized through FEMA Emergency Support Function 4 to support COVID-19 vaccination efforts for the Southwest Washington Health Services.

Katy O’Hara, Information Officer for the team, said, “The team will be providing command, logistics, operational, and public information support as mass vaccination efforts begin in the communities.”

The incident in the state of Washington is named “SW WA – COVID 19 Pandemic Vaccination 2020030901”. (I’m not sure how that’s going to look on the T-shirt.)

At least one of the IMT members received their first dose of the vaccine after being notified about the assignment. They will be eligible for the required second dose in four weeks. About two weeks after that, they will begin to get strong immunity.

Our take

All wildland firefighters, especially Incident Management Teams, crews, and individuals that could be mobilized this year, need to get vaccinated now. The government should put in them in the 1b category along with first responders and frontline essential workers. It takes about six weeks after the first dose of the Moderna vaccine before immunity approaches the 95 percent effectiveness seen in the phase three trials if the second dose is received at 28 days. (Edit: contractors also need access to the vaccine.)

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

28 thoughts on “Incident Management Team dispatched to a COVID incident”

  1. 1. There is not enough evidence yet on whether the vaccines prevent asymptomatic infection.
    2. Precautions will be necessary until the U.S. gets closer to herd immunity
    3. Reaching herd immunity is partly dependent on enough people opting to be vaccinated.

    Herd immunity is the point at which enough people are immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. Roughly 75% to 80% of the U.S. population needs to be immune to Covid-19 to reach herd immunity, but that number is a moving target and could rise as new variants emerge. Even if vaccines don’t prevent transmission completely, they can still help populations achieve herd immunity if enough people have them, says Arnold Monto, an epidemiology professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health who chairs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

    MORE HERE:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/does-getting-the-covid-19-vaccine-stop-you-spreading-it-scientists-dont-know-yet-11610989882

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  2. Thanks for the clarification Nick. You are right based on the initial vaccine studies. Since the COVID vaccines are inter-muscular shots and not given through a nasal spray or orally, I can’t unequivocally say that it will not prevent infection in others. However, based on other similar viruses and their studies, such as MERS and H1N1, the science will likely play out that antibodies are antibodies, regardless of location and will prevent most infections in the body, thus also not allowing a person to host the virus to give to others. The current science does at least show that it “reduces” the likelihood of infecting someone else versus those who do not have the vaccine. As for mandates, I can’t speak to that although I do understand it is in front of the FMB now for consideration and will likely come down to individual agencies/bureaus each doing their own thing, some mandating while others do not. Congress?? Ha!

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  3. Oh, and sorry Scott. The research is not there to support whether or not the current vaccines inhibit transmission. They will protect the person who gets vaccinated from getting severely ill, but may not offer any protection to those not vaccinated. Guess what? When you get the flu vaccine, you might still become infected with the virus, and you might infect others. You just won’t get sick (assuming the vaccine is on target.) This is in contrast to the measles vaccine, which prevents infection by the virus and therefore can lead to herd immunity. Which raises a question in my mind. What does the social contract say about what those who get vaccinated owe those who do not? Here is an interesting take from an emergency room doc. “What will we ethically owe those who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine?” https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article248611775.html

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  4. Nice arguments and passion around Social Contract.
    Indeed I do not feel that my personal rights are being infringed upon when I stop for a red light at an intersection.
    Nor when I have to get a permit to redo my electrical wiring so that I do not burn down the neighborhood.

    It is likely that neither agencies nor IMT’s will decide to make vaccination a prerequisite for a job.
    That mandate will probably have to come from Congress and/or the President. I doubt many of them read WT.

    Please write your members of Congress. You can start by copying and pasting your arguments from above into emails to your congressionals.

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  5. As a 20-year firefighter and a somewhat libertarian-leaning person, I am appalled by your rationale Big Ernie. This isn’t about you and it isn’t about the wildland fire community. This is about the thousands of communities we serve and bounce between every summer. This is about the thousands of private citizens we evacuate, brief, provide shelter to, and/or are otherwise engaged with on practically every wildland in this country. It’s every rancher, city slicker, suburbanite, and vagabond out there. While yes, you can rightly argue what you put in your body is your choice, your choice stops at the high likelihood of sickening my 76-year old parents because your unimmunized-self coughed on the gas pump handle in their little town as you passed through. Your rationale is no different than saying you have a right to speed or drink booze and drive; while you may hurt yourself, you may also be responsible for the death of some 4-year old’s mom. Again, you can chose not to receive the vaccine as your right, but then you should forgo the privilege of serving the American people until you understand what “serving” means.

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    1. BTW Big Ernie, I forgot to add in response to your question. Yes, either vaccine will effectively NOT allow you to host the virus nor spread it to others; your safe and others are safe. Meaning, 4-6 weeks after your second dose, you will be 90-95% to be immune from the virus, which correlates to 90-95% protection against spreading it to others. For comparison, the overall efficacy of the flu vaccine is 60%.

      While you can still pass the virus from dirty clothes and dirty hands, the likelihood is minimal with good hygiene.

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  6. Typo in my above comment:

    It says: “As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your opinions, but to a separate of facts.”

    Should read: “”As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your opinions, but NOT to a separate of facts.”

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    1. As long as we’re making corrections, the quote is:
      “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

      But I completely agree with your post, Hugh, and I’m glad you wrote it!

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      1. Thanks for the correction, Kelly. It’s a great quote, especially in this age of Orwellian Fake News, but I invariably get it wrong and usually Google it to make sure I got it right.

        Last spring, as an IMT AOBD I developed the Northern Rockies COVID BMPs for Aviation. Unfamiliar territory, an eye opener. But just basic common sense of looking for the holes in the Swiss Cheese.

        At the time vaccination was still a hope. But now that it’s here, I am fully in favor of a couple of things. A license type vaccination card. And I know that Ernie is going to love this, but this is dead serious business. No vaccination? No job, no any job. No vaccination? No use of transportation regulated by cities, states, and feds (buses, trains, and planes.

        a related sidelight: in my career since 1969, starting in ’85, I have lost over 100 friends (2 best ones) and acquaintances in ground and air accidents. I know all too well what is serious business. I wish I didn’t, but I’ll be damned in my “aged” state if I want to see the virus rip through a fire camp because one person thought his/her “rights” were being violated by being required a vaccineation, or bought a forged vaccination card. Now who would do that?! Well, “several” million,. 🙂

        BTW, 2020 was it for me. 50 seasons. Done. Over. Truly retired now. It was all a kick. Don’t get no better than fire, or earthquakes, or floods …. not in this lifetime at least. Be safe, be healthy, keep it real,

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        1. Good luck in your retirement Hugh!!! You are such a breath of fresh air and I soooo agree with your thoughts. You will be sadly missed in the wildland fire world. Best wishes for a long, happy and healthy retirement!!!!

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        2. Hugh, is your R1 COVID BMPs for Aviation online anywhere? Do you know if each region had a similar policy or recommendation? Is it on the R1 site somewhere or on the NIFC site?

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          1. No, they’re not online but shoot me your email to airops@paonia.com and I’ll send (and anyone else too!!). Beau Dobberstein HOS R1 who is one of those stellar “Next-Gen” HOSs and I oversaw their development with every other NR AOBD (I was on mike Almas’ team). A true joint effort with ground-level AOBD buy in and some invaluable input from Beau. A couple of Area Command Team ACACs put together Aviation BMPs that got little or no field review, with consequent omissions and duplication. Those unfortunately went national in every Geographic Area and the NR ones we did got replaced sometime last summer or this fall, though we got buy in from the GACC CG to put in ours.. Email me and I’ll send you the ones we did. Take care, stay healthy. Hugh

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    2. I agree, Hugh.

      Our schools need to teach:

      –Critical thinking skills;
      –Civics (how government works);
      –Science; and,
      –How to evaluate incoming information for truth and accuracy.

      If there is no agreement on a set of facts, turmoil can be the result… like we’ve seen over the last few years, but especially on January 6.

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      1. Please understand that it should come down to a persons individual choice on vaccinations, it is not ignorance. If you are claiming truth and facts and of course science, (because science has never been proven wrong it just recorrects itself, etc.). I am not claiming any facts or numbers but simply asking how many Wildland firefighters or (Forestry Techs, Range Techs, etc.) deaths occurred during the 2020 fire season? Does anyone know? I don’t, that’s why I am asking. It should be a critical truth to know before I just stick my arm out for an emergency vaccination that is claiming to reduce the severity and symptoms of COVID but not stop the spread, which would be a whole other story if the vaccine will keep you from being a carrier/spreader… Not enough science to convince me to stick my arm out, but sure glad I live in a country that lets me have a choice, at least for now…

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        1. “Please understand that it should come down to a persons individual choice on vaccinations,”

          Right. And it should come down to a person’s individual choice whether they agree to submit to a pack test or driver’s exam, too. If you want to run a saw with no chaps, that’s your freedom, and if others want to submit to rules like that, they can. You should be allowed to do anydamnthing you want, though, because you are bygod a FIREFIGHTER.

          Now we know you’re an imposter. Big Ernie would never propose such a thing.

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        2. Yeah, Big Ernie. You have a choice of being infected, being a spreader, and infecting other people who might die. But you’ll be fat dumb and happy, not realizing you are symptomless, but being a super spreader. Stay away from me. You don’t have a right to kill people. The IMT will be dealing with managing the effort to stop this pandemic. The members come from many different areas and will have to deal with the public, government officials, the EMS community, the public, the Press, and the list goes on. They don’t have the luxury of isolating, nor choosing who they come in contact with, nor do they want to help spread the pandemic. It’s people who think like you do, who are helping to create and maintain this deadly crisis.

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        3. “I am not claiming any facts or numbers but simply asking how many deaths occurred during the 2020 fire season?”

          How many would be enough for you to change your mind? If 20 kids died last year, would you agree to be vaccinated? Would you need to see that 80 firefighters died? If you’re insisting you need to know that a certain number died in order for you to agree that a Covid19 shot is mandatory, what’s that number for you?

          Some people shouldn’t even HAVE a red card.

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        4. Boy, Ernie, you sure are a demon for punishment. Your first post: ” If you feel like you need it, go for it, just don’t mandate!” And above: ” … sure glad I live in a country that lets me have a choice, at least for now…”

          Well, well, Ernie, I’d lose the shovel because with this last comment, you just keep digging the hole deeper. “….at least for now.” ‘Excuse me for political profiling, but that’ s a dead giveaway similar to my buddy Luther’s stock response to the election outcome here in 80% Trump-supporting Colorado ranching country, “Hugh, we’te gonna be communist in no time flat.”

          He was referring to mask and vaccination mandates. I don’t argue stuff with Luther for a number of reasons, not any of them good, just self’-preservation here in vigilante militia country.

          I do hear you on science’-based rationales for requiring vaccinations. However, this is not magic. Any kind of complex research, development, and tracking of results is going to take time. Not long’, but time. The great American immediate self-gratification is not operative here.

          But what in hell do you think 100s of researchers around the world are doing right now as we argue the point if not getting that data. All lab testing to date indicates it is effective. Demographic success data is still a work in progress.

          In the interim it is killing 3000-4000 PER DAY. To you, it seems that to you that number is just a number, with no cognitive or emotional impact on you as a human being. 1000s per day. More to come. With you, we’re NOT all in this together, which by the way is an implied foundational concept of this country as well as Rousseau’s Social Contract.

          Another logical conclusion is that until it is exactly pinned down, you’re willing to countenance that many deaths, and potentially be a super-spreader. Potentially killing some innocent folks.

          But you and your “rights” to blow off government mandates to save lives. Screw any kind of assessment of hazards and relative risk managements. Relative’? Between maintaining your “rights” and killing someone. Not to engage in hyperbole, that’s s called involuntary manslaughter. It is what is.

          I am so glad you feel fulfilled in maintaining your bogus rights, “at least for awhile.” I suppose your rights are constitional. Just where does it say you have the right to infect and kill me?

          Again, get rid of the shovel before you get buried, in all senses of the word. Like I said, if you end up at the end of a ventilator, I guarantee you’ll wish you had been vaccinated, 100% complete data or not.

          If it is not clear yet, I do not like being a victim, of either my own or other’s irrational intransigence.

          Life is risky, my man, cowboy up and stick that arm out.

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  7. Big Ernie’s approach (“just don’t mandate it”) exemplifies the ignorant thinking that is going to allow this virus to tear apart this country for years and if that thinking prevails – and there’s nothing to say it won’t given the prevailing irrationality of a near majority of our population. And this comment made with an even more virulent, contagious mutant preparing to sweep across the country. You cannot cherry pick a small slice of a demographic (in this case, cases in wildland firefighters) as a rationale for jack. It is statistically and intellectually dishonest. Period. Big Ernie, I obviously don’t respect your opinion at all. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your opinions, but to a separate of facts.” So stick out your arm, bubba. Otherwise go home. The time for the accommodation of belief and action that is contrary to the social contract, is over. Over. It’s time to get back to the business of this country.

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  8. NDMS mobilized 3 of there teams a year ago to aid in the repatriation of those Americans who were on cruise ships or other travels.

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  9. Support those choosing too get vaccinated, but anyone mandating Wildland firefighters to get an emergency vaccination I would not support. Not sure where you are going with this…“All wildland firefighters, especially Incident Management Teams, crews, and individuals that could be mobilized this year, need to get vaccinated now. ”. Not sure on the statistics of COVID related deaths among Wildland firefighters in 2020, but I don’t recall any in the Forest Service fire community, so I am not sure why vaccinations are being pushed so hard when the BMP’s seemed to work last year? If you feel like you need it, go for it, just don’t mandate!

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    1. The agencies have not been immune to COVID-19, and there have been deaths related to it.

      The BMP’s are good, some of them I’d like to see stay around, others are just tiring, and I’ll be glad when the go away.

      Related to the article, Idaho health districts are accepting the agencies first responders, LEO’s, fire, etc. for vaccines. So in some areas, this is already being done. The agency stance supports the vaccine, but doesn’t mandate it.

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    2. Big Ernie: Take a look. Incidence among firefighters:

      HEADLINE in WILDFIRE TODAY: Over 200 wildland firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 and one has died

      https://wildfiretoday.com/2020/09/02/over-200-wildland-firefighters-have-tested-positive-for-covid-19-and-one-has-died/

      200 infections, 1 death. So the BMPs were effective? Ask how your anti-vaccination worked for the firefighter who passed away. Probably would not have died with 100% vaccination. Ya’ think? Take a look below at the health effects of infection. Yeah, some are minor. The other people are scarred, literally or figuratively, for life. You think the statistics are . minuscule? “Only” 0.5% died!!” Well, a couple of suggestions, why don’t you work for 2 weeks in an ICU with a 40% effective bandanna on. Yeah, don’t mandate a particular type of face covering!! Bandannas are SAFE!! Well, buddy, a 40% chance of not being infected just ain’t high enough for this kid. And if you get COVID while you’re in there, try being on the end of a ventilator. That’s when you’ll wish you had a vaccination.

      You said, : “If you feel like you need it, go for it, just don’t mandate!” Bull****. Your rights being infringed? Bull****. Suggest you read Rousseau’s “The Social Contract” to refresh your memory of what’s involved in living together in a civilized society. It’s called believing in science and not some phony, self-centered quasi-libertarian philosophy. Yeah, I’m white-hot angry at the beliefs of a large segment of the population of this country. Your beliefs that not mandating vaccination to stop this sucker in its tracks is not in any way supportable. You are putting my family, friends, and 10s of 1000s of wildland firefighters at severe risk. I do not like that all. Not at all. And I’m damned sick of having my own liberty restricted by folks’ who seems incapable of using critical thought regarding the greatest threat to world health since the 1918 pandemic.

      From the same URL: “The strenuous work, long work shifts, close living and working conditions, limited access to hygiene supplies, and a workforce that responds to incidents all over the country on short notice to wildland fire incidents may be conducive for the transmission of infectious diseases, including SARS-CoV-2. Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, possibly including COVID-19.[iii] In addition to potentially making firefighters more vulnerable to getting COVID-19, inflammation in the respiratory tract due to wildfire smoke might also increase the risk of developing more severe outcomes for those with COVID-19.[iv] Wildland firefighters should implement the recommendations described in the CDC’s FAQ for Wildland Firefighters to prevent infection and spread of COVID-19.

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