Critchley: Pandemic takes a toll on first responders

By on Monday, October 11th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

PENDLETON – COVID-19 has made things difficult for first responders in Umatilla County. Pendleton Fire Chief Jim Critchley said that his EMTs are responding to an average of two to three cases a day. He’s proud of his staff for their quick responses, but is also proud of them for taking care of themselves.

“Over 19 months, we haven’t had to close a fire station,” he said. “Yet, all of our partners in the county have had to close down fire stations. Tribal, a great partner, had to close down for a little bit. When it first started East Umatilla County had to quarantine a fire station. Scott (Stanton) up at UCFD1 had to close down a fire station.”

Critchley said that before he came to Pendleton, he didn’t fully appreciate how helpful partner agencies can be.

“It’s been neighbor helping neighbor, which after I got here I realized that’s the Eastern Oregon way,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to work together.”