Family speaks out about Wash. FF's struggle with COVID-19

Family members and colleagues of Kennewick Firefighter Shane Webb urged others to wear a mask to help slow the spread

Cameron Probert
Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Shane Webb came home from work at the Kennewick Fire Department feeling a bit run down on Father’s Day.

When his wife, Julie, came in to check on him at 3 p.m., he sat up and started coughing.

They soon learned he was infected with COVID-19.

Now, as her husband remains in quarantine, Julie Webb has taken to Facebook to share their experiences in hopes it will convince others to wear their masks.

“My husband is a healthy, 38 year old who is currently fighting COVID here in our home and my son and I are still COVID-free. Masks work!” she wrote in her Facebook post.

An 11-year veteran with the Kennewick Fire Department, he normally runs and swims every day, and regularly needs to wear a pack full of gear into buildings and carry patients out.

Now, he has trouble walking 12 steps without needing to take catch his breath or stop to cough.

“It’s not just the flu,” Julie Webb said. “It’s not an old person’s disease. That’s what scary about it. You don’t know how it’s going to affect someone.”

Wearing a mask

Firefighters have been placed on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus, and normally take many precautions, including wearing masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment before dealing with people who are potentially sick.

In this case, both Shane and the patient were wearing masks. He was part of the small unlucky percentage of people who catch the virus even while wearing protection.

They are hoping to show others that wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing can reduce the chances of being sickened.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s directive for everyone to wear masks in public went into place Friday in response to rising infection rates across the state.

The order has drawn criticism, including a video from Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza where he says people shouldn’t be ”sheep.”

“I’m OK with being called a ‘sheeple,’” Julie said in one of her Facebook posts. “I know my mask is keeping my ‘flock’ (aka you, my community) safe.”

She called on people to act with compassion, and understand that wearing a mask can help to slow the spread of the disease.

The Kennewick Firefighters Union is also sharing Julie’s message through Facebook. They added that Shane is a former Marine, who was part of a team that saved a 2-year-old from a burning in manufactured home in November 2017.

“This is our brother, our friend our co-worker,” the union said in a post. “If he can get it, you can get it. Wear a mask. Think of others.”

Road to recovery

So far, the firefighter has quarantined himself away from his family while he recovers. He has been reading to his son using a Facetime app. He can’t get through the 12-page Llama Llama book without coughing, said his wife.

She starts to tear up when she talks about how her son is handling the struggle.

“He hasn’t gotten to hug his dad. He doesn’t understand what’s going on, but he puts on a mask,” she said. “If a 5-year-old can do it, why can’t adults do it.”

They are hoping that sharing their struggles will help people see the human behind the illness, and convince them that coronavirus is a real threat to themselves and their loved ones.

“We need to help the community see the faces of people affected by this, and help people see that this is here and we need to take care of each other,” she said.


©2020 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)


This is our brother, our friend, our co worker. He is a former marine, was on the crew that rescued a 2 year old from a...

Posted by Kennewick Firefighters Union, IAFF Local 1296 on Saturday, June 27, 2020


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