Letter: Darien firefighter frustrated with first responder classification

Darien Fire Department

Darien Fire Department

Darien Fire Department

To the Editor:

As a long-time firefighter in Darien, I am frustrated that the town has said we are not eligible as medical first responders in the first wave of Phase 1A first responders.

According to the state, within the Phase 1A eligibility is listed under — Medical First Responders - “High risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their response to medical emergencies such as Emergency Medical Technicians, Police, and Fire.”

The reason the town has provided is that we are not “medical first responders.” While not all of us are EMTs, many of us are.

Regardless, Darien’s firefighters are on the scene with medical first responders to assist them as needed. during medical emergencies such as car accidents and others. The risk is no less to us than any other first responders who put themselves on the line to assist in the case of an emergency. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and we don’t have the option to, nor would we want it, to decline to respond.

To put it bluntly, for the town to relegate the importance of our safety as quite literally and publicly a lower priority than the rest of Darien’s first responders is a slap in the face.

All of us have volunteered to put our own safety and that of our families at risk on a daily basis just by doing the work we do. We’re not afraid of sacrifice or we wouldn’t be firefighters. We are disappointed that that sacrifice appears to be taken for granted. As we see all of our fellow firefighters get vaccinated across the state in the same phase we are locked out of, we have to wonder who’s doing something wrong here — Darien’s fire departments, or the Town of Darien?

Shane Smith

The writer is a former assistant chief of the Darien Fire Department and current Darien firefighter.