Faces of the Frontlines: Paramedic focuses on pride, not fear
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There is no question the spread of COVID-19 has made his job more difficult the past several weeks, but Steamboat Springs native Brian Shively hasn’t let the risks stop him from pursuing his 28-year mission of helping people as a firefighter and paramedic with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue.
“The whole process just takes a little longer because you have to put the mask on, and if it’s a suspected COVID patient then you are putting a gown on, and we have these big PAPR masks,” Shively said. “A lot of those people are fine for the first four or five days then start getting sick and then they get sicker.”
So far, Shively said none of his patients have tested positive, but the fire department follows strict procedures on every call and takes extra precautions when dealing with a patient who is showing symptoms, tested positive or may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
“The staff is always there on top of their game with everything,” said Interim Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli. “And so they’re well-versed in infectious disease and how to handle that, and certainly, this has that little extra level of potential seriousness to it, but it is kind of similar to what we deal with in everyday life.
“True to form they step up, make sure they understand what is different about this disease and what they need to do in order to protect themselves and they put themselves back out there selflessly, as they always do,” Cerasoli added.
Shively has been putting himself on the frontlines of health care for the past 28 years. He joined the department in 1991 as a firefighter and started working on the ambulance in 1993. Shively said he was inspired to become a firefighter after losing a good friend David Girty Jr. in an automobile crash.
“He was one of my best friends,” Shively said. “I went into this field hoping to help people out, and I think that was my big kick, and it kind of pushed me this way. When you save people, it’s a pretty good feeling. It’s a feeling that I’ve had multiple times over the years.”
Now that he is on the frontlines of this pandemic, Shively is once again hoping to help his community out, which for him, is just part of the job.
“It’s a big deal, but something we just do,” he said. “I take pride in what I do here every day.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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