3 Alaskan First Responder Firefighters Get Coronavirus In Nikiski On The Kenai

It's hard avoiding catching the deadly coronavirus, no matter who you are – even a careful Alaskan firefighter. First responders everywh...

It's hard avoiding catching the deadly coronavirus, no matter who you are – even a careful Alaskan firefighter. First responders everywhere around the world are considered to be "on the front line" when it comes to this disease, whether they fight house fires, operate ambulances, or work in any medical capacity. On June 3rd, Nikiski proved it when three of the town's firefighters fell ill with the virus. 

Nikiski Fire Department (Photo, Fire Department Facebook)

Eight More Nikiski Firefighters Possibly Affected
The town of Nikiski has around 4,500 residents. It's on the Kenai Peninsula, north of the City of Kenai, along the coast. Nikiski is a somewhat industrial place for Alaska, with a population of about 600 more people than Valdez. (At last count, Valdez numbered around 3,834 residents.)

On March 26th, 2020, Nikiski fireman Jason Taurlainen suited up in his personal protective gear (his "PPE") for a photo story in the Peninsula Clarion. He was showing how the Nikiski crew intended to protect themselves from contracting the illness.

But by June 3rd, three members of the Nikiski Fire Department had tested positive for covid-19, and eight more were in quarantine as they awaited test results.

The story of the Nikiski Fire Department's coronavirus infections and its 11 possibly affected members (all part of a single work shift) quickly became national news.

The incident was reported, almost immediately, over the AP wires and in the Washington Times and the Seattle Times.

The fire department is made of full-time staff and volunteers and it apparently wasn't for lack of trying that this happened.

In the June 3rd Associated Press story, Nikiski Fire Chief Bryan Crisp said the department "will continue to follow federal health protocols and recommendations from the (Kenai Peninsula) borough's physician director, which include wearing protective gear and cleaning equipment."

The website "FireRescue 1"  keeps a tally of the confirmed covid-19 deaths that they know of, by state, that have killed American firefighting personnel.  As of June 3rd, the web directory included 12 states, from Colorado to Maine. Alaska was not yet one of them. The site includes stories about the victims. (The over 100,000 Americans who have succumbed to the virus are all too  frequently nothing but a number.)

Firefighters, fire captains, fire protection inspectors, fire chiefs, deputy fire chiefs, ambulance mechanics, paramedics and others were all noted as having succumbed to the virus. 


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