Fair Park

Behind the Scenes: Volunteers Are Key to Running Fair Park COVID-19 Vaccine Site

At least 7,000 people come through Fair Park every day and it takes hundreds of people to help run the site.

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This week Dallas County's Fair Park COVID-19 vaccination site will hit the milestone of 250,000 doses administered. It's an achievement that will have taken hundreds of people, including volunteers and personnel from government agencies, to reach.

Most people are familiar with images of lines of cars entering white tents where the COVID-19 vaccines are given, but it's what takes place before the crack of dawn, and the people who arrive early who make it happen.

"Without the volunteers, we couldn't do it, that's why we need volunteers all the time," said John McGinnis, a volunteer coordinator at the Fair Park site.

He said on a daily basis volunteers help direct traffic, write on the windows of cars to let vaccinators know the brand of vaccine to give, and also help with the observation process after a person receives a shot.

"Sometimes we get more, sometimes we get less, but 175 (volunteers) is a perfect number," McGinnis said.

Volunteers go through training every day on how to maintain the process and keep things running smoothly.

"This is probably my sixth time volunteering and it's fun and feels good," Michelle Patten said. "Oh my gosh, it’s so important because the more people they get vaccinated the better it is for all of us.”

While volunteers help manage the grounds, there's a black trailer on the site from which the whole operation is managed.

"We start here, we develop a set of objectives and these are our guides for the day," said LTJG Brandon Towle, with the United States Coast Guard, as he pointed to a board with plans and goals.

There are multiple monitors inside the trailer showing traffic around the site, along with a vaccination recorder that shows how many have been administered.

"This center is really where the leadership team comes together using objectives making sure every effort, whether that’s staff, personnel, or resources, are really focused on people getting injections in a quick and safe manner, that’s our whole goal," Towle said.

He said they're constantly working and adjusting logistics to match the need maybe for the day.

Leaders from FEMA, The U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and other federal, state, and local partners are housed in the trailer.

The vaccines and other medical supplies are housed in a different trailer nearby.

"Right inside here, you’ll see these are the doses we plan on using today, these are Pfizer doses," said Jeff Loesch, a pharmacy merchandiser with the Dallas division of Kroger.

He's working in conjuction with the county.

He said every day the vaccine is brought to Fair Park from Dallas County Health and Human Services' main office or one of the hospital systems with which the county works.

"It's brought on-site from the refrigeration equipment each day, we draw vaccines and any remainder is brought back each night to DCHHS to put back into storage that's on a generator," Loesch said.

Last week, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the Fair Park vaccine site needed more volunteers.

To find out how to volunteer at the Fair Park vaccine site, click here.

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