April 14th, 2020

Mo stories from the frontlines

West Pierce Firefighter Chris Pfaff on the importance of staying connected while staying home.

From the outset of this pandemic, our agency was on the frontlines of this outbreak. With our district located just over an hour south of the initial United States contractions of the virus, we understood the need for personal hygiene and safety with our members and their families very quickly.
In the last month, our world has been flipped upside down. Items and tasks that typically would only be seen once or twice a year by our members have become the standard for our daily tasks as well as when responding on calls. Currently, we are using social distancing, even when we react on routine calls. We were ensuring to keep as many of our members out of harm's way as possible. We are on a cleaning standard that is above and beyond any cleaning standard we have ever seen at the firehouse. These tasks are required to keep our crews and their families safe and most of all, to ensure we still have members ready to respond when the tones go out.

“Continue to call, text, or web chat one another, we all need to ensure that we are getting through this together.”

Just within the last week, one of our members contracted COVID-19. This subsequently slashed our staffing by requiring 18 other members needing to isolate themselves from staff, the public, and even their families. I have spoken with my family and we have a plan in place should I become one of these members. I am not looking forward to the possibility of having to isolate myself in one section of my own house to attempt not to infect my family.
Although everyone is stressing that we must stay at home and stay apart from one another, this does not mean we need to cut off all connections. In our modern social media world, there are countless ways we can still check in with a brother or sister in need. Continue to call, text, or web chat one another, we all need to ensure that we are getting through this together. With a combined effort between everyone, not just first responders, we can pull through this and come out better on the end.

If you or a loved one is in a physical, medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go directly to emergency services.

To speak with someone immediately, contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK), contact Lifeline Crisis Chat or contact National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on 800-950-6264 or Text NAMI to 741741.