CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A retired Corpus Christi firefighter and his ambulance crew partner will spend the next 30 days in the Northeast to help fight COVID-19 in communities where the virus is spreading quickly.
"We have been told we’re going to be working around COVID-19 patients," retired firefighter Ed Escobedo said. "We don’t know if that means in a hospital-type setting or going back and forth to FEMA centers."
For the past year or so, paramedic Escobedo has been transporting patients among various nursing homes and medical facilities along side EMT Mariah Estrada. All the duo knows about their trip is that they're likely leaving Friday and that they're headed for New Jersey.
“We’re expecting it to be very different from around here -- from what we’ve been doing," Estrada said.
At 63 years old, Escobedo is at a slightly elevated risk of having complications should he contract COVID-19. But he says his 30 years with the Corpus Christi Fire Department taught him something important.
“We run in -- we don’t run out,” he said. “If somebody needs help, we’re going to go there."
At 23 years old, Estrada is not in a high-risk category. But she says telling her family that she was answering the call for help in the Northeast wasn't easy.
“(I have) nervous parents," she said. "Lots of nieces and nephews that are -- and a dog at home -- that are not ready for me to go. But it’s going to be OK.”
The duo will take with them a large amount of PPE -- personal protective equipment -- like masks and face shields that people around the country have donated to their cause. They're being cautious, while at the same time being brave.
“You’re going into something you don’t know -- something dangerous," Escobedo said. "But, you know, we have precautions. We know how to take care of ourselves."
“We’re just taking a big leap of faith,” Estrada added.