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Paramedic, nurse drive 8 hours on backcountry roads to deliver vaccines to rural Idaho community

Yellow Pine, a community of 29, is about 50 miles of dirt roads into the mountains east of McCall but like many others, residents were eager to get vaccinated.

YELLOW PINE, Idaho — Over the river and through the woods they went to grandma's house, well, kind of. Thanks to a nurse and a paramedic, a small and very rural Idaho town was able to vaccinate most of its residents, most of whom are at high-risk for COVID-19 complications.

Paramedic Sam Jensen and Cascade Medical Chief Medical Nurse Terri Coombs have taken the 50-mile journey down dirt Forest Service roads to the community of Yellow Pine. 

The community of 29 seasonal residents would have made an eight-hour round-trip drive if they wanted to go to the nearest city of Cascade to get vaccinated, a trip many couldn't or wouldn't want to make. But for Jensen and Coombs, it was a drive through Idaho's backcountry that they wanted to do.

"Yesterday, it felt like we were going back to see friends," Coombs said.

For these two healthcare workers, it likely felt that way since it was their second trip to the rural community in a month. This time it was for their booster shot of vaccine.

"It's been a godsend for them to come up here twice up here to get it done," Rhonda, a Yellow Pine resident, said.

Coombs and Jensen vaccinated 20 people when they came to town. The few who weren't in town were still able to get the shot along an old dirt road.

"They flashed their lights at us, we all pulled over and immunizations were given," Coombs said.

For a community of people who don't fancy themselves going out often, they're finally free to go out without the worry of contracting the deadly virus.

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