All personnel of the CNMI Department of Public Safety on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota are now fully vaccinated, which Commissioner Dennis Mendiola of the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services praised, saying that getting vaccinated is what all first responders should be doing.
DPS public information officer Dre Pangelinan disclosed yesterday that there were no issues with DPS personnel getting vaccinated. DPS currently has 180 employees on Saipan, 53 on Rota, and 32 on Tinian.
This is in contrast to DFEMS, where a number of personnel are refusing to be vaccinated. In praising the DPS personnel for being vaccinated, Mendiola said he is proud of the officers who followed orders and got their shots. “We need to lead the way in this charge of getting our community safe so I’m actually very proud that there’s not much resistance with the Department of Public Safety,” he said.
As for the 11 firefighters who refuse to be vaccinated, Mendiola said two of them have decided to get vaccinated. This means that nine firefighters, who are currently on administrative leave with pay, are facing possible adverse action for non-compliance with the directive to be vaccinated.
Mendiola declined to provide further details as he waits for the final report on the adverse action, which is currently with the Office of Attorney General. He said it will be available today.
Additionally, because they are short on manpower, Mendiola said DFEMS has opened a new fire cadet academy. The training academy was supposed to start in March 2020 but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, DFEMS had to put the academy on hold.
“We just brought this back when we started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Plus now we’re seeing a shortfall with
. …The initial plan was supposed to be in July, but we decided to just launch it [now],” said Mendiola.
At the start of March, 23 DFEMS firefighters refused to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, citing unknown medical risks from taking it as well as arguing that they should be given a choice in the matter without putting their jobs at risk.
However, on March 19 Mendiola said 12 have agreed to be vaccinated while 11 personnel will face adverse action for failure to comply. Last April 8, Mendiola confirm that number dropped to nine, with two personnel agreeing to be vaccinated.