[Mark Busch - email@example.com]
DeKalb Fire Department
Patrick Eriksen has been a firefighter for 14 years. Eriksen, a third-generation firefighter, has been a first responder through outbreaks of Ebola, H1N1, SARS and MERSA and says he has never seen anything like the threat of COVID-19.
“We continue to do our job and take precautions, but now we have added protection, including wearing gowns and masks,” Eriksen said. “However, coronavirus is always at the back of our minds and we have to be careful.”
Eriksen works shifts of 24 hours on, 48 hours off, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The DeKalb Fire Department has three stations and a total of 56 firefighters.
“Part of our job is to respond when people are sick, and we would normally go into the person’s house with no hesitation,” he said. “I’d kneel next to the person and ask how they’re feeling. Now, because of the coronavirus, we’ve changed the way we do things. We are more cautious and careful. My biggest worry is bringing the virus back home to my family.”
Even though he is a first responder, Eriksen said he believes that everyone’s job is essential, especially those staying at home.
“It’s important we all do our part and that we stay at home as much as we can,” he said. “I know everyone is stir-crazy with cabin fever. But it’s important to practice social distancing. You can go for a walk, enjoy nature, read a book, listen to music, catch up on Netflix, support local businesses. By staying at home, we can flatten the curve that much sooner.”