Mayor Nadine Woodward issued the following statement (also available on video) regarding the City’s compliance with the state vaccine mandate impacting EMT and paramedics:
“How to follow the state mandate was not an easy decision for anyone. We respect the choices individuals made and the department will continue to answer the call for help.
The City acted in accordance with the state mandate. Several factors were considered, first and foremost the safety of the public and our employees.
Accommodating in the job of hire presents an undue hardship and too great of a risk to the public and Spokane Fire Department employees. As it has on the community, the virus has had a significant impact on the department.
Fire Department employees work in very close proximity to people during their most vulnerable medical moments, which presents risk. Nearly 24,000 hours have been lost to quarantine and more than 4,000 hours lost to confirmed job-related positive cases through August.
Every attempt was made to keep employees in good standing and provide time to get the information they needed to make the choice that was best for the individual and their family. We provided options that included accommodations for extra time to follow the state mandate. Several took advantage of those options or withdrew their exemption requests.
These were extremely difficult choices made during extremely difficult times. We respect and support the decisions that have been made and would welcome any of our employees back once they are able to meet the state mandate.”