What It’s Like to Be a First Responder in Quarantine

Our first responders currently have the added stress and trauma of COVID 19. With that comes the unfortunate risk and exposure leading to many of our first responders being quarantined. Many of our first responders are not only quarantined but contract COVID 19 from those they encounter.

Sasha Lefler’s Story

Sasha Lefler, a paramedic of Summersville, WV became ill suddenly with a sore throat, fatigue, and fever. When her strep and flu came back negative, they tested her for COVID 19. Sasha was informed she must quarantine while awaiting results. Sasha struggled with whether or not to quarantine at home because she was terrified of exposing her family if she had COVID. After speaking to several professionals, she made the difficult decision to quarantine and isolate herself at home in a bedroom away from everyone. Testing in WV was very slow to deliver results. Sasha spent many days isolated in her room, hearing her husband and children on the other side of the walls. At one point, her children and husband ate dinner outside her bedroom window so they could talk to each other while they ate. Many days she sat in her room researching COVID and the best treatments so she could be prepared. For 11 days she listened to her husband and children on the other side of the door from her. She wanted so desperately to open the door and be part of the family dynamics on the other side. Eleven days is a lot of days and hours for the mind to race back and forth. It took eleven days for Sasha to get a negative result. The first thing she did was to leave that room and hug her family.

John Feal’s Story

John Feal, of the Fealgood Foundation, tested positive for COVID 19 in March. The Fealgood Foundation is the driving force that brought insurance coverage to those first responders of 9/11. John spends his days helping the first responders of 9/11 and fighting for their rights. This past March, John found himself so sick he was unable to help anyone. John began to feel sick with what he thought was a stomach virus. As soon as he thought he was over that, he noticed he had a sore throat which quickly escalated to a cough and chest pain. Every day seemed to bring more pain and worsening symptoms. He fought it off as long as he could before getting tested for COVID 19. Within 36 hours of testing, it was confirmed, he had COVID 19. When he thought he could not possibly get any worse, he did. He quarantined himself at home alone. John tells us that for a period of four days, he was so sick he has no recollection of anything. He feared he might die at home alone in quarantine. He remembered the 11 weeks he spent in the hospital after 9/11, and he absolutely did not want to end up back in the hospital or even worse, put on a ventilator. He was fighting pneumonia and COVID 19. John says that every part of his body hurt from his hair to his toes. John said he wasn’t ready to die. He has way too much work left to do. But, in the back of his mind, he was worried he might die because COVID 19 was ravaging his body. For three weeks, he fought COVID 19. During that time, he also could not taste anything, not even the cough drops he was using by the dozens. He had no taste at all. It wasn’t until day 17 or 18 that he felt better. John fought COVID 19 with every ounce of strength in him.

Thankfully, John had a lot of family and friends checking on him during those 18 days although he was too sick to remember some of those 18 days. Quarantining alone is the only way to prevent the spread to family and friends, so John did just that. John stayed in quarantine until he was medically released and deemed not contagious. John didn’t mention it to us in our interview, but we know as soon as John was released from quarantine, he began to donate plasma to help others overcome COVID 19. John is a humble man so we didn’t expect him to tell us about that, but we wanted to mention it because it is who John is, a helper to those in need. John wasted no time in getting back to work with the Fealgood Foundation pouring food and supplies into NYC personally delivering them to healthcare workers and first responders. We are so thankful that John survived COVID 19 and continues his work supporting those out there on the front lines.

In our interview with John Feal, he reminded us that not only does COVID 19 endanger our first responders and health care workers, but so many of those first responders who survived 9/11 have compromised immune systems. John tells us because of their compromised immune systems, many retired NY first responders of 9/11 have been lost to COVD 19. Our first responder and health care workers across the nation both retired and active are fighting in this COVID 19 pandemic.

Get Help Now

The Safe Call Now hotline, the National Crisis Hotline for first responders and healthcare workers, has received a significantly higher volume of calls from first responders in the New York and Seattle areas which have been hit hard with COVID 19. We are thankful our first responders are utilizing the hotline. We understand that currently, our first responders and healthcare workers have the added trauma of COVID 19 along with all the destruction COVID 19 brings with it. We encourage our first responders and health care workers who are struggling to call the hotline. Another first responder will answer your call to talk to you or to give you resources if you need them.

If you, someone you love or someone you know needs help, call:

Safe Call Now:  24 Hour Confidential Hotline:  206-459-3020

Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-405-8014 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008