For the last three years, Samuel Ortega has worked as a first responder for the Norton Shores Fire Department. A passion for this field arose at a young age, watching his father serve the community as a Fire Fighter. Sam loved visiting the station and climbing all over the trucks.
Sadly, his father passed away from ALS, which was triggered by firefighting work. The loss was devastating and for years Sam pushed away the calling to join Fire Service, but God had other plans.
Only God would know that Sam’s service would be needed at such a time as this. Even though the call volume has lowered, the stress and mental load is much heavier. Protocols are changing daily, sometimes hourly. As a first responder, being ready and adaptable is key. Even before Covid-19, the department had a certain amount of P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment) to wear, and now, the P.P.E. required is greater—regardless if a patient is assumed positive or negative for coronavirus.
With every case they face, our responders must recognize and face the danger. Unfortunately with Covid-19, the danger doesn’t end at the conclusion of their shift. As they return home, they dump their clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower, hoping to protect their own families. The danger is real, but they face it for us.
Each day, Sam and his team strive to be at their best in order to keep the community safe. Sam says that it is a hard balance between doing his job safely and wanting to jump right in and help. “For the community, we keep our heads down and keep moving forward. This too shall pass,” says Sam. “While I think our normal will definitely be a “new normal” this will pass.”
We are grateful for Samuel and all first responders. Being on the frontlines is challenging physically, emotionally, and mentally. Please join us in praying for these great men and women. Please remember Sam and his family in your prayers.