TUCSON (KVOA) - They signed up to become first responders. But in the age of COVID-19, that term takes on a new meaning.
For nearly a year, not having the vaccine themselves, they've been on the front lines, risking their own health to save lives.
The Rural Metro Fire Station 74 crew said that the pandemic has changed the way they respond to calls.
"It is pretty eye-opening," said Ben La Turco, a firefighter EMT with Rural Metro Fire. "We usually go on calls and we wear our gloves and our eye protection and stuff and on every call we have to have our mask on all the time."
Fire Captain Paul Wilford said that their station has an average of about five or six COVID-19-related calls a day.
"We could be exposed to multiple COVID patients in a day so we are always worried something might have gotten contaminated that didn't get decon properly," he said.
The crew said that they treat every single person as if they are a COVID-19 carrier and have become more disciplined with safety precautions.
"We are a lot better about getting showers and changing uniforms and not wearing something home that might be dirty," said Capt. Wilford.
While they continue to follow safety protocols, they encourage everyone to do the same like wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and social distance to beat the COVID-19 pandemic.