First responders join the front lines during pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic is a growing risk for first responders, yet some are still choosing to join the front lines.

Bernie de Hoog was just sworn in at the Edina Fire Department. He’s proud to put on the uniform, saying it gives him the chance to make a difference.

"Be able to assess a situation very quickly and just know exactly what to do in that moment to help make someone’s day better," he said.

In fact, his swearing-in happened 10 days earlier than it was originally scheduled.

"With the anticipation of the influx of patients and emergency calls were going to get they wanted us to speed up training to get us on the trucks sooner so there is more of a workforce," said de Hoog.

Full coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic

He spends most of his day in an ambulance. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the department has mandated new precautions for every call — goggles, gloves and face masks.

Being out in the community every day, they risk potentially getting exposed to the virus while on the job. Because of that, de Hoog said first responders are frustrated state lawmakers haven’t approved a workers’ compensation measure protecting them if they get COVID-19.

"We really felt let down by the state government at that point," said de Hoog, adding that they’ve been told a couple of times they’ve been in contact with someone who had the virus.

Like many first responders, de Hoog knows the situation will only get worse, but he still wants to be on the front lines.

"We always say that we always want to help people and that really is the bare bones of what were doing, we really want to help people," he said.

While the rest of us stay put to help slow the spread, people like de Hoog continue to step up. As the pandemic continues to evolve, we see our country’s newest heroes doing critical work here at home.