FESTUS, Mo. — A first responder is in the hospital right now fighting for his life against COVID-19.
Festus Fire Chief Kevin Cremer is currently intubated in the ICU after testing positive for COVID-19 and pneumonia.
Cremer is used to leading his team.
"He takes care of all of us," said Travis Wood, the Training Officer for the Festus Fire Department. "He’s a family man, he’s just truly an amazing guy."
Battling whatever is in their way and working together.
"He’s receptive. He’s probably one of the best people I’ve worked under. He works with you and takes whatever you want to do and will make it happen," Wood said.
Yet, probably his biggest fight is before him. 48-year-old Cremer was hospitalized on Jan. 3 with COVID-19.
The men and women that work alongside him aren't letting him endure this on his own.
Friends and co-workers created this GoFundMe with a goal of $10,000.
"It’s going to help him and his family for the road ahead, we aren’t sure where the road is headed," Wood admits.
Chief Cremer is just one of many infected in Jefferson County.
"We're reporting over 2,000 cases for this week," said Brianne Zwiener, Public Communications Officer with Jefferson County Health Department. "That's the highest we've ever reported for a weekly case count since the beginning of the pandemic of March 2020."
Out of 2,806 confirmed and probable cases, 6.48% are vaccinated and boosted.
These are more than just numbers. These are lives and loved ones.
"He’s a great person, he has the biggest heart," Wood said.
The members of the Festus fire crew are just some of the thousands impacted by the virus.
They know they aren't alone and want to remind Cremer he isn't either.
They check in daily with their chief, sharing constant prayers.
Finally, they got a snippet of hope.
"There’s been a small improvement in the last day," Wood said.
He's expected to be out of quarantine by this weekend and for the first time, his family will be able to see him since he was admitted.
"He’s got a wife, he’s been with her for 30 years and he has two kids," Wood said.
Now, his crew is trying to make sure they can be the ones to lead Cremer to recovery
"He’s everything. He’s truly everything here," Wood admits.
Beyond the online donation campaign, the Festus Fire Department also plans to do a fundraiser to help out the chief and his family, soon.
For future fundraisers and updates, you can find information at the Facebook page here.
5 On Your Side inquired if Cremer was vaccinated. We were told they were not authorized to discuss his vaccination status unless they have consent directly from the employee. If they do not, they can't disclose the status.