by Lindsay Doty
Suited up and back at the station, firefighter Kevin Byron enthusiastically returned to his job with Brownsburg Fire Territory Aug. 1.
“It feels fantastic. I’ve missed this, and I’ve missed the people,” Byron, who has been away from his public safety post since March after battling — and beating — COVID-19, said. “It’s been an uphill battle. It (the virus) affects everyone differently, and it attacked me really hard.”
Byron, a 52-year-old, had mild atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and hypertension before contracting the virus.
In March, Byron got sick. At first, he just felt rundown but was later hospitalized for symptoms of shortness of breath.
The firefighter tested positive for COVID-19 and spent most of April at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville, including two weeks in intensive care and on a ventilator. His family didn’t know if he would live, but Byron started breathing on his own again. He was released in late April but still had a long recovery ahead.
“I got out of the ICU, and they tried to stand me up, and I would pass out,” Byron, who lost 75 pounds while in the hospital, said.
He spent a week at a rehab hospital and then months of rest and recovery at home, including cuddles on the couch with his son and his dog.
Byron spent the summer regaining his strength and now does cardio and mild strength training for work.
“I feel good,” he said after responding to an emergency call in Brownsburg with his team.
He’s thankful for his faith, the doctors and his family and friends, from his fellow firefighters to his church community at Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg who helped his family pay the bills while he was sick.
“God answered your prayers to heal him, and your generous gifts provided for his family to keep their home and rehabilitate him,” Connection Pointe pastor John Dickerson wrote on Facebook, thanking church goers for donations.
“They have been phenomenal. They rallied around us when we needed it most,” Byron said.
Being sick has taught him not to sweat the small stuff and soak up the things that matter most.
“It was definitely a perspective shift,” he said.
Byron has worked for the fire department for more than two decades. He is also a public information officer with the department and a Navy veteran.
He doesn’t know where he was exposed to COVID-19.