CARMEL — Due to their interaction with the public, first responders are more vulnerable when it comes to catching COVID-19.
Back in March, Carmel Fire Department Deputy Chief Mark Gugle woke up early one morning with a headache and a fever. He quickly went to get tested, which came back positive for COVID-19.
"In that first week, it was like the worst cold or flu I'd had ever," Gugle said. "My bones ached, I had a fever, I would fall asleep with chills and covered in blankets and wake up in a puddle of sweat, and then I would feel better than the day after that it got worse, and it came back worse every time. Lost my sense of taste and smell all that stuff you hear that's all true."
Gugle's wife, Jennifer, also ended up getting the virus. Gugel started to get a dry cough after the first week and went to the hospital.
"They actually did a CT on my lungs, and it showed that I had pneumonia in all my lung fields, so they admitted me, and I spent about a week in the hospital with pneumonia," Gugle's wife said.
Gugle is one of two CFD firefighters hospitalized for COVID-19. There have been 17 cases total within the department; ten of those showed no symptoms. For this reason alone, the chief says its vital their crews are getting tested weekly.
"And I do believe it has helped slow the spread of this virus in the community," David Haboush, CFD Fire Chief, said. "When we do get a positive test, we reach out, we retrace through contact tracing, and we alert other people at the fire stations to let them know there was a positive case."
Gugel says it took about a month before he felt well enough to go back to work. As someone who recovered from the virus, Gugel says he wants people to take it seriously, especially when it comes to the essential effort of wearing a mask.