Knox County Rural Metro among first on the ground for NYC COVID-19 response

Behind the Badge

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Going above and beyond, that is what is asked of first responders each and every day.

Many times, these men and women are asked to put their lives on the line for those they’ve never met. This is exactly what 10 members of Knox County Rural Metro recently did when deployed to New York City in the fight on COVID-19.   

The deployment was for two weeks, but for almost two months the Knox County Rural Metro members were committed to tackling the coronavirus head-on in what was at the time the epicenter of the pandemic. 

“Started out, when we went up to New York, the first couple of weeks – to tell you the truth – we didn’t see a whole lot because nobody was out on the streets,” Rural Metro firefighter and paramedic Kevin Bukstein said.

As mentioned, the initial deployment was for approximately 2 weeks, but the requests to extend their stay kept coming. 

“Normally when we go to a hurricane or earthquake, it’s usually a two-week deployment,” Rural Metro Fire Chief Jerry Harnish said, “but in this case, the two-week deployments kept coming.”

“Whenever they asked, being from the Volunteer State, we jumped at the opportunity to help out,” adds Bukstein of the group’s willingness to remain in the Big Apple.

As for what was asked of them, Bukstein, who oversaw the actions of the Knoxville crew, said they made sure first-response vehicles were ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

” was nervous for the crews that I was over and for fellow firefighters that were disinfecting the ambulances, or cleaning, or anything else. Every day was something new for us,” he said.

In other words, no one day was like the other.

“Part of going into disaster areas is you do whatever job is handed to you,” Harnish said. “One of the particular skills of firefighters in the 21st century is the ability to fit into large emergency organizations.”

So here’s to Kevin Bukstein, Christopher McCaig, Logan Dodson, Adam Dantzler, Garrett Dobbs, Dewayne Odell, Jerome Rood, Thomas Mullholand, Logan Mathes and James Naylor on a job well done.

“We were some of the first boots on the ground,” Bukstein said. “We wanted to see the whole incident to fruition and see it completed the way it should have been.”

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