KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – A Kansas City Fire Department EMT has died as a result of the coronavirus.
According to the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department Assistant Chief Jimmy Walker, one of their EMTs has died as a result of COVID-19.
KCTV5 News has learned the name of the EMT is 69-year-old Billy Birmingham.
“He had been with the department since 2010 and worked many years before that as an EMT with MAST,” Walker said.
KCTV5 News received a statement from the firefighter’s union that reads in part, “This member did not lose his life, he gave his life serving the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri.”
"It is with great sadness that we announce the death of one of our own, today we lost an EMT to the COVID-19 pandemic. This member did not lose his life, he gave his life serving the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri. More details will be released when all notifications to family are complete. Please keep our IAFF Local 42 membership, the KCFD and the family of our member in your thoughts and prayers."
It’s a tough sacrifice to learn about, as firefighters and EMTs are struggling with other challenges, including a lack of PPE.
Eleven days ago, KCTV5 News reported eight KCFD employees had tested positive and 95 were quarantined. The department says Birmingham was the only one hospitalized and the others are doing well. The number quarantined is now down to 30.
On Monday, the Missouri governor recalled 48,000 of these KN95 masks sent to places like the KCFD, who got 3,000 of them. The union sent them back.
But the department spokesman notes the masks played no role in Birmingham’s death, because they hadn’t been used yet.
Mayor Quinton Lucas also sent KCTV5 News a statement on the passing of Birmingham.
“I am heartbroken by the death of a longtime Kansas City Fire Department EMT, who tragically passed away this afternoon due to COVID-related complications. We will share further details about his life and service at a later time, but for now my heart goes out to his family, his friends, and all in KCFD who remember his selfless service to Kansas City.
We all must continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent any further spread of this terrible disease and to best support our first responders and health workers who give it all for us.”
The Kansas City Fire Department sent KCTV5 News a statement.
"I am sad to report that KCFD EMT Billy Birmingham lost his battle with COVID-19 this afternoon. He was part of the KCFD family for the past 10 years, but part of the MAST family for many years prior," said KCFD Fire Chief Donna Maize. "His passing represents a personal loss to all of us who knew him and cherished both his friendship and professionalism."
The City of Kansas City will turn on the Firefighter’s Fountain and Memorial at Pennsylvania and 31st Street Wednesday in honor of Birmingham’s life and service.