The concept of public safety took on a new meaning for the Tustin Police Department recently.
About 25 members of the department served in a variety of roles on April 3 at the Columbus Tustin Recreation Center, where 300 members of the community showed up to receive their COVID-19 vaccination.
Tustin Police Explorers directed traffic in the parking lot, and cadets, master reserve officers, CERT members, and detectives helped vaccine recipients register and directed them through the process which involved moving through the line, checking in, moving from station to station, and getting their shot in the arm.
After they received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, recipients sat and relaxed for 15 minutes in case they experienced side effects. Then they were free to leave.
“It’s a very exciting thing,” said Sgt. Sara Fetterling, who helped oversee the event. “Even though there are lines, everyone seems to be happy and relieved once they are actually walking out (knowing) that it is done.”
Fetterling worked with county agencies to help plan and coordinate the event, which is referred to as a mobile vaccination POD (point of dispensing).
The mobile PODs are smaller and easier to navigate than the super POD sites at Disneyland and the Anaheim Convention Center, the sergeant said.
“The county has been doing a good job of making these mobile PODs available in each city and the point of this is that some people aren’t comfortable going to, or can’t get to the large super PODs,” Fetterling said. “This is meant to target the vulnerable, the older population within our community, and make it very convenient for them. This is our first one in Tustin so far.”
Among the hundreds being vaccinated was Orange County resident Bill Yardley, who registered for his vaccine through the Othena website and was directed to the Tustin location.
“It’s been a great experience,” Yardley said. “I’ve been here 30 minutes. Very short. Very efficient.”
Yardley also praised the efforts of the Tustin Police Department staff.
“Just having their presence makes a big difference,” he said. “There is a certain level of comfort as well. They’ve done a terrific job.”
Tustin Police Chief Stu Greenberg, who was also on hand, said he was proud of the department for stepping up in the fight against the coronavirus.
“We’re just trying to make sure the community gets what they need,” Greenberg said. “It’s what we do for a living. It’s why we signed up to be police officers … to help people. And there is no bigger need right now than this.”
The chief, incidentally, is also the law enforcement representative for the Orange County Coronavirus Task Force.
The task force was assembled by the OC Health Care Agency and is composed of members of different demographic and workforce groups who discus prioritization of vaccine distribution around the county.