A day in the life of an Elkhart firefighter

2017 EMHS graduate, Jenner Minix, shares his experience as a first responder during the pandemic.


Photo provided by Jenner Minix

Jenner Minix, firefighter at Osolo Township Fire Department, shares how his job has changed during the pandemic. Minix is a 2017 Elkhart Memorial graduate.

Rayna Minix, Entertainment Editor

The embodiment of strength during this apocalyptic time has been portrayed by the nurses, the doctors, and the scientists who are working every day to combat the aggressive force that is the coronavirus. Rightfully so. And while I do not wish to take any of the recognition from these heroes, let us not forget the numerous other essential workers that continue to put their lives on the line to keep the world turning.

I have the privilege of one of these essential workers being my older brother, Jenner Minix. He is a firefighter, passionate and proud of his job. And even in the midst of a global pandemic, he wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

So what is it really like? To have a job where you are already in danger, and then having to deal with a deadly virus? 

“When this all began, in the very early stages, we were instructed to ‘treat it like the flu,’” Minix explained. “Obviously, this quickly changed once everybody realized the severity of it.”

Because of this, Minix’s job became even more critical in protecting the health and safety of the public.

 “Now, we are required to wear masks and safety glasses to every call we go on,” Minix said. “We limit the number of people that can go on medical calls, so as of right now, if you don’t have your medical certifications, you can’t go.” 

As expected, sanitation efforts at the fire station have also been drastically increased.

“We disinfect the station almost constantly. If we have a positive case, we have to wear a mask, eye protection, a gown, gloves, and a face shield,” Minix said. “When we get back from a positive case, we have to disinfect the truck, wash our clothes, and take a shower.” 

But we all know that it is not the precautions we are required to take that makes this such a scary time. The face masks and gloves that make us sweat, we can deal with. The disinfecting isn’t fun, but we do it. 

What puts everyone on the edge and makes them hold their loved ones extra tight is the fear. And this is a fear that is felt by firefighters too. 

“The scariest part for me is the thought of getting the virus and giving it to someone else,” Minix said. “Because even if I get it, chances are, I’ll be okay. But I don’t want to be the one to give it to someone else that may not be able to handle it like a 21 year old could.” 

And while everybody in the world seems to have a different opinion about what is going on, why it is happening, and where we will end up, there is no denying that it is something to take seriously. 

“There are people that will tell you it is no big deal and we are overreacting, but the fact of the matter is that most of these guys have families to come home to. And if they can do anything at all to protect them, they are going to. No matter what it is.

— Minix

For some, it may just seem to be an inconvenience. Terrible things are simply just terrible things until they become a reality in your world. And out of respect for those willing to put themselves in danger, we need to acknowledge the consequences we could be causing. 

“I wish that people would take it more seriously. The virus, quarantining, and social distancing. I wish they would stop complaining about wearing a mask and understand that we are dealing with life and death, not some average cold,” said Minix.

Recently, the station responded to a call where a woman was thought to possibly have the virus. Minix got sick shortly after, but with symptoms much different than that of the virus. Regardless, he was tested to be on the safe side, the side we should all be on right now. 

“In the time that I was waiting for my test results, I couldn’t stop thinking of the people I had come in contact with,” Minix said. “Of course, I had been staying at home when I could, but I have two essential jobs right now. I was terrified of causing harm to someone and not even knowing it.” 

Thankfully, his test results came back negative, a sigh of relief for him and everyone around him. 

So there is no denying that this has truly been a time of tragedy. But it seems that in our hardest trials, the world comes together. The kindness in humanity shows itself in times of darkness. 

For example, while the station was struggling with a shortage of supplies, they received a donation of masks, gloves, and face shields from local industrial factories. Acts like this are done for one purpose only: lending a helping hand.

So remember the sacrifice everybody has made. Remember the firefighters, the police officers, the nurses, the restaurant workers, the gas station cashiers, your neighbors and everybody in between. They have all had to give up something. And while it’s not easy, we all have a part to play. And if you get a chance, try and thank a first responder.  

“You drive down the road and see the signs in people’s yards thanking the essential workers,” Minix said. “It reminds you who you’re going to work every day for.”