Nothing could have prepared Steven Acord for this.
The North Ridgeville firefighter and EMT-paramedic says he and the entire fire house are adjusting to the COVID-19 crisis one day at a time.
“We’re doing our best, but the COVID-19 crisis has just been a different animal,” he said.
Steven always knew he wanted a career that made him and his family proud. It took him some time after high school to figure out what that was, but once he did there was no looking back.
“My plan changed twice before I realized I wasn’t happy. I wanted to do something more fulfilling and I chose this field. Once I started classes I gave 100% effort,” Accord said.
Those classes were at Lorain County Community College where he earned his paramedic certification and associate of science degree in fire science. Both programs gave him every tool he needed to be a good firefighter and a good paramedic.
But today, what makes firefighters, EMTs and paramedics successful is the ability to adjust. From simply being at the fire house to procedures on emergency calls, this pandemic has changed everything.
“Work is a lot different than it normally is right now,” he said. “When we aren’t on calls, we are socially distancing ourselves from each other and wearing masks around the station. On calls we are much more concerned with getting an early temperature on the patient and quickly determining if the patient is at risk of having COVID-19.”
At the North Ridgeville Fire Department, one squad is dedicated to responding to calls in which the patient has any COVID symptoms. The goal is to limit the chances of exposure.
“The fire department must continue to operate, so it’s imperative that our personnel stay healthy during these times,” he noted.
Accord said every new process they implement today will prepare them during a future crisis – a positive he chooses to see now.
“We can have better protocols in place and stockpile personal protective equipment,” he said. “And I am confident that we will all come out of this stronger.”
Another silver lining shines when he walks out of the fire house after a 24-hour shift and into his home. He doesn’t turn on the television or follow the news of the crisis – he sees enough to know the latest while he’s at work.
Instead, he focuses his time on his wife and his one-year-old son.
“I believe a silver lining has been the amount of time we are spending together as a family,” Accord said. “I have always worked a lot and expressed wanting to spend more time at home. My son gives me all the smiles I can handle, and my happiness is not going to be affected by this virus.”