101 Town Center, P.O. Box 5655, Bella Vista, AR 72714 (479)876-1255

BVFD Paramedics inoculate more than 1,300 in one day

More than 1,300 individuals included in the 1B phase of the state’s vaccination plan were administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, during the Bella Vista Fire Department’s second vaccine clinic event.

The clinic was held at Riordan Hall, in cooperation with Northwest Health and the Bella Vista Property Owners Association. Though Bella Vista residents were primarily targeted to receive the vaccine, the clinic was open to anyone who qualified.

Organizers worked to streamline this event, following the first clinic event in January, which resulted in more than 800 vaccines administered over three days. 

The department is able to offer vaccination clinics because they operate the only municipal-based Community Paramedic program in the state. This is a special state licensure that allows medics to focus on expanded care within the community, to better serve their patients and to prevent them from being readmitted to the hospital following accidents or illness. 

Community Paramedics provide assistance beyond emergency care, such as helping administer medication, facilitating telehealth appointments with doctors, and educating patients on life-saving issues, such as appropriate diets and fall risk mitigation. 

Chief Steve Sims, who is one of the department’s staff who hold the CP license, joined the ranks Thursday to draw up shots and administer vaccines. As Chief of the department, Sims doesn’t often get the opportunity to provide one-on-one care to patients, and these clinics are a refreshing chance to go back to his roots of public service, he said.

“This is about getting shots in arms and getting our people protected,” he said. “We are doing what we can to help vaccinate as many people as possible, and to provide our residents with a sense of relief and security.”

Mayor Peter Christie, who was also working at both events, said he is proud of this department for stepping up and helping get the vaccine to as many of his community members as possible.

“I was contacted in January by Northwest for help administering vaccine doses, and my staff quickly went to work on the first clinic,” Christie said. “I was contacted on a Friday and that afternoon they had a location reserved and a plan in place for the following week.”

Battalion Chief Ronnie Crupper said he knew the department could up the game and increase the numbers of vaccines they provide in just one day. 

The weather impacted the second dose clinic of the January event, causing the first of three days to be cancelled. Over the following two days, the department easily absorbed the increased numbers, while still providing top-notch service. The department’s personnel also participated in the area’s first mass vaccination clinic held Feb. 26 at JB Hunt in Lowell, which resulted in 3,000 doses provided in one day. 

“The difference in a clinic run by emergency medical staff as opposed to a physician’s office or pharmacy,” Crupper said, “is that we are specially trained to work with patients in a fast-paced environment, often when the patients are in scary or even life-threatening situations. We used those skills to get as many people in and out today as we could, while still providing excellent care.”

Crupper hopes to continue being able to offer these clinics through the state’s vaccine process, and as more individuals are able to obtain the vaccine. 

Residents can sign up to receive text alerts from the city, which include helpful information such as road closures and trash pickup delays but will also be used to provide vaccination clinic information. Residents can sign up by texting the word BELLAVISTA (one word, all caps) to 888-924-1255 or registering online HERE

This information is also shared on the Fire Department’s Facebook page. Department personnel ask that if you know of a friend or neighbor who lives in Bella Vista and does not regularly use the internet or even have a computer, contact the department and someone will reach out to that person to be sure they are provided the opportunity to receive the vaccine. Call the department at 479-855-4454 or email information to info@bellavistaar.gov