Our Experience Being A Firefighter Family Living In Arizona During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and reading. This has been a post I have been wanting to write for the last several weeks. The last time I wrote on this topic was back in March. My husband Josh is a firefighter and has been on the department for over 12 years. I hope this gives you some insight on what our family has been experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local fire departments are starting to report more COVID positive test results among it’s members. Phoenix Fire is reporting 62 positive COVID-19 cases among firefighters and another 100 currently quarantined during the testing process, awaiting their results.

Let me start by saying you could have 10 families within the fire department write their thoughts and experiences down and get 10 varying answers. This post is based on our own experience.

Our family has been a self contained unit since March. We have not spent time with extended family members other then quick driveway visits from the car. Same goes for any in person interaction with friends. For reference we have an 8, 6, 3, and 3 year old. Three of our kids have had birthdays during this time. We celebrated their birthday’s at home. No friends, no extended family over, just the six of us.

We have been ordering our groceries online and picking them up curbside. Not any different from how we were doing things pre-pandemic to be honest. With 4 kids I am so thankful for curbside pickup! We haven’t eaten at any restaurants since February. This feels super crazy typing out because it is the longest period of time we have ever done this in our almost 13 years of marriage. 

The 4th quarter of school was done at home. Our kids missed their teachers and friends so much but we made the best of the situation and I feel like we did it fairly well.

Church is being done in our living room. Our church has been doing a great job at providing resources for us and our kids during this time to worship at home. 

But while we have been doing everything possible to limit our footprint outside our home so many others are not. Our state has more cases currently daily then we did during our stay at home order.

When Your Child Realizes What Dad Does For Work…

We always knew our kids would one day realize that Dad’s job is dangerous. He doesn’t just get to ride in a really cool fire truck but he actually fights fires. Fire burns. In this moment we knew part of their innocence would be chipped away as they realized Dad could get hurt at work. 

When Josh was a few months graduated out of the fire academy and in his first rotation, we went to a Christmas party with the crew he was working with. We had been married a year at this point, and I was super excited to meet the other wives. I listened to them talk about this exact topic and filed it away for later. I knew when the time came I would have the best speech planned for this conversation with our own kids. 

My breath caught in my throat one night two months ago when we were putting our oldest to bed. After saying prayers Josh told him he would be going to work in the morning. 

In the moment something clicked and Caden realized that Dad would be around other people who might be sick. It was heartbreaking. I always thought we would have this conversation in regards to fire. I had a great speech prepared, thanks to listening to that conversation years ago, about how daddy trains to be careful during fires and why we are so thankful he works with a crew that truly has each other’s best interest at heart. 

And while that last part remains true about his crew, no fire department has been trained for how to operate during a pandemic. Firefighters fight fires, run medical calls, and are there for the community in any and all emergencies. Everyone is learning as they go and trying to implement the best known practices to keep crews and patients safe. 

We are beyond grateful for this job that Josh wanted for so long and that pays our bills. But for the first time in Josh’s career, his job has concerned me. There are so many unknowns. At least with a fire you have protocol to follow. You train for fire. Firefighters don’t train for a pandemic. I don’t want my husband, family, or his coworkers to get burned by this.

We let our son know Dad is taking every precaution he can at work. And honestly that is all we could say.

Limiting Exposure To COVID-19 At Work & Home

My husband comes into contact with numerous people at work and because of that interaction we are doing several things at home to limit any virus exposure to our family. 

Our house gets disinfected several times a week. Josh isn’t sharing any of his food or drink with myself or the kids, though he will still eat any remaining food on our plates ;). He immediately showers and changes his clothes when he arrives home from shift. Shoes are left in the garage and sprayed down before they are brought into the house. He is wearing a mask at work and physically distancing in the station (this is now part of the standard operating procedure). Cell phone, keys, and steering wheel are wiped off also. 

COVID-19 Testing

University of Arizona is currently doing a wide scale study of COVID-19 with first responders and Josh was able to get the antibody test through the study. He had the test in May and tested negative. The tests results came with two pages of information basically saying that he could still be a COVID-19 carrier even with the negative result.

Fast forward to the end of June and he had a known contact with a positive case at work. While he has had known contact with COVID patients at work before, this time the exposure was from another firefighter. Thankfully Josh was able to get a test and two days later the negative results came back. Again the negative results came with information saying that even though he tested negative it might not mean he is actually negative. Only that at the time of testing, if he was infected, he didn’t have enough viral load to confirm.

Not everyone is having a two day turn around time like Josh did. One of our family members was tested on the same day as Josh but it took him just shy of two weeks to get his negative result back. Two weeks! That is such a long time. 

The downside to all this is that it took Josh several days to be informed about the exposure. Time that we as a family could have also been exposed as well. And had we been out and about in the community we very easily could have given it to others. It is great that more people are able to be tested in Arizona but the results are taking so long. And due to various HIPAA laws some organizations have their hands tied in exactly how much information they can share. It is just all really frustrating.

We can only control what our family is doing to keep everyone in our household healthy. Beyond that, it is up to others in our community to help keep my husband and other essential workers safe. At this point in time it doesn’t seem like that is happening. Driving around town you would never know that our hospitals are almost at capacity due to COVID-19. 

How Many People Do We Know With COVID-19

In the last two weeks we can count 10 people that we know who have COVID. Thankfully the majority have had mild cases so far, but a few are still feeling the effects even after being deemed “recovered”. They are still suffering from breathing issues and fatigue. Currently one of those is prone on a vent and fighting for his life. 

Our youngest son has asthma and is on 4 different medications to help monitor his breathing. We don’t know what COVID would do to him. Maybe he would have a mild case, but that is a gamble we don’t want to take. We aren’t living in fear but we are living cautiously. We have read up on all the best ways to protect our home and keep Josh safe at work and are putting those things into the practice, the rest we know is in the Lord’s hands. 

This time period has been especially eye opening in regards to friendships. We hear and read the opinions of our friends and peers on this topic. People who we might have normally reached out to for support are approaching this as a hoax or think it is a complete over reaction. It is hard. It hurts at times. Not really sure there is much more to say on that. It just sucks. 

I am hopeful this will get better and I believe it will at some point. But until it does we will be staying home.

The kids and I miss going to see Josh at work, eating Deena-balls (a yummy treat with oreos and cream cheese that his crew member makes), and sitting in the truck pretending to go on a call. The fire department is one big extended family and we are so thankful our kids get to grow up with these experiences and we are looking forward to the day they can happen again. I love my husband and I am so proud of the work he, and his crew, and department are doing right now.

On The Sunny Side of Things…(And It is Really Sunny & Hot In Arizona Right Now)

On a positive note, we have spent so much time with our kids! And I really do mean that in the best way. I was spending an average of 4 hours a day in the car driving kids to and from school and it has been amazing to have more time at home. We have been potty training our littlest ones. Yay for potty training when you don’t have to drive anywhere! And all the mama’s said, AMEN! And we have been playing so many board and card games. 

Even though we haven’t spent time with family in person we have been using technology to our advantage. We have played board games with our family via zoom and been able to see each other for birthdays. 

We are eating healthier because we aren’t eating out. So yay! I have been able to workout consistently since April and we completed our garage gym, I will share details on that soon. Josh did an amazing job organizing all our equipment in one central location.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to write and how much to share especially on this topic. Thank you all so much for reading! I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read what our family has been experiencing.

xo, Tamara

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The Night America Woke Up to COVID-19

In the span of 30 minutes tonight after President Trump gave an address on the coronavirus, actor Tom Hanks announced himself and wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for COVID-19. This was followed by basketball player Rudy Gobert’s testing positive for COVID-19 and the NBA announcing an indefinite suspension for the rest of season. I was just about to publish this post when I saw the U.S. Department of State has issued a Global Level 3 Health Advisory and is now telling US citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19.

Image Source: NY Times

I have been closely following this story since mid January. Lately I have felt like I am living in a movie with an unbelievable plot. From the first whistle blower in China, Dr. Li Wenliang, being diagnosed and dying of the virus and to citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin going missing after sharing videos from hospitals in Wuhan these men, along with many more reporters, deserve the entire worlds thanks and gratitude. If not for them the world would not have known about this virus or its severity.

In the United States testing is still widely unavailable. Without mass testing capacity there is limited data available to show where the virus is spreading and how many people have it. I live in Arizona, population 7.172 million, and at the time of this post being published we have tested 100 people. At this point we all need to assume that it is rapidly moving among all our communities. The lack of testing and limiting testing criteria shouldn’t have happened. Crucial time was wasted.

Tonight proves to all Americans who have not been paying attention or brushing this off as “just the flu” that this needs to be taken seriously. The United States has recently started exporting cases to other countries which means that the virus has been active and undetected in multiple cities for several weeks.

Two weeks ago the world started seeing a large number of cases that were linked to recent travel from Italy. Today Italy reported 2,313 new cases and 196 new deaths. In total Italy has reported 12,462 cases, 827 deaths, with 1,028 in serious condition and 1,045 recovered. Scientists have been saying that the United States is two weeks behind Italy in regards to virus spread.

If you have not started preparing you need to. The CDC recommends having a two week supply of water/food and extra prescription medication. Social distancing is going to be something we hear for awhile. No more handshakes, cover your coughs and sneezes, don’t go out when you are sick, and stay home as much as you can. Now is not the time to panic. Make a plan and start getting prepared. There is only so much at this time that we can control. If you feel anxious start making a list of what you can control now. I will have a follow up post to help with this soon.

Know that you have a voice. Be positive and be kind but speak up. We need to hear how our local governments are trying to flatten the curve. Use your voice to encourage and use your voice to inform others. We need to hear from first responders and healthcare workers at the front lines of this pandemic. And yes, it is officially a pandemic as of today, the World Health Organization finally made the announcement this morning.

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been diagnosed and to their loved ones. Stay safe!

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June 2019 Fitness/Wellness Update

I have been sharing these updates in order to motivate myself to eat better and exercise more consistently in 2019. In case you missed the other posts in this series here are February, March, April and May.

Taking these pictures each month is not something I look forward to doing. I feel so silly standing in front of my mirror with my camera. But I am so glad that I have this documentation because it is great motivation to see how far I have come since January.


My wavy and high volume hair is thanks to chlorine and dutch braids. We recently purchased an above ground pool for our backyard and have been spending time in it everyday. It has been the best $100 purchase! If you are on the fence of getting one do it. It is so nice to be able to step out in our backyard instead of loading all 4 kids in the car to go to the public pool.

Eating

I have been eating lots of salad. Be sure to check out my mom’s Asian Chicken Salad recipe if you haven’t already, it is a winner. I am really loving the Green Goddess dressing from Tesserae’s.

Josh sampled this powered vitamin at Costco and we have been using it for the last few months and really like it. A scoop in the morning added to my 32 ounce hydraflask gives my water so much flavor that I feel like I am drinking kool-aid.

Workouts

I am still plugging along on my 12 week week weight lifting program. I am on my third and last week of phase two. This phase focuses on muscle fiber growth. Training for pure muscle growth calls for training in a higher rep range of 8-12 reps with a rest period of one to two minutes between sets. 

I really try to shoot for 12 reps on each set if I can. It is so cool to see how my body is adapting and changing to lifting heavier weights. Here is a sample of what a workout looks like.

I am lifting like this three times a week. Because these workouts have been getting longer I have started exercising at night after the kids go to bed. I have found an added benefit to this is that I don’t start getting sore until the next evening right before bedtime and I can sleep it off as my body recovers ;). I still would prefer exercising in the morning just to get it done but night time workouts aren’t so bad.

Wellness

There isn’t much to report on in this category. I am still exercising consistently and eating well. So that is a win for me! My main focus over the next month is to try and drink at least 96 ounces of water a day.

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today and reading :). Have a great week and a safe 4th of July!

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