DeWitt Township first responder dies of COVID caught on the job

DeWitt Township first responder dies of COVID caught on the job
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 10:36 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - After a firefighter and paramedic died from COVID he contracted on the job, his friend wants everyone to know what it’s like on the frontlines.

Dec. 27, 2021: Michigan COVID cases up to 1,481,480 and 26,650 deaths

“I want it to be known that James was amazing. The community of DeWitt, losing him as a paramedic, they really lost a really excellent provider,” said Beth Douglas. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Douglas paid tribute to James Swindlehurst, who lost his life to COVID on Christmas Eve.

“When I think of James, I think loyalty,” Douglas said. “He was loyal to a fault.”

First responders -- like Swindlehurst -- are dispatched every day to situations where they are putting themselves at risk. They are often the first line of defense for patients with coronavirus. Douglas, who is also a paramedic, said it’s nerve wracking going into people’s homes who are COVID positive.

“It’s something that we signed up for,” Douglas said. “But, it doesn’t mean that we want to take the risk.”

While it shouldn’t take a tragedy like this to help people realize that’s important, Douglas is encouraging everyone to hold the ones they love just a little closer.

“Love your loved ones because, even though they’re young, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be there tomorrow,” Douglas said. “And it doesn’t mean that something awful can’t happen.”

She wants people to be honest with the dispatcher when calling 911 regarding COVID. She said crews have responded to calls where the person didn’t disclose they had coronavirus and put those in danger.

Swindlehurst left behind a 27-year-old wife who, while mourning, is left with the financial hardships that come from losing a spouse. A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family, you can donate here.

There are also memorial shirts. Proceeds will support Swindlehurst’s family. You can get one here.

More: Father of 3 narrowly survives COVID-19, has extended hospital stay in a coma during vacation

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