EDWARDSVILLE, Kan. — Fire crews at Edwardsville Fire Department are mourning the death of their brother, Jason Taylor.
“Really well liked member of here, a family man,” Fire Chief Tim Whitham said. “He was very well liked by anybody he interacted with.”
The 52-year-old had worked for Edwardsville fire for three years following stints with Franklin County Emergency Medical Services and the City of Bonner Springs.
“We went to check on him shortly before Christmas,” Whitham said. “He took a bad turn right after Christmas. The passing the other morning was a shock to the entire agency.”
Chief Whitham said Taylor was very charismatic and had an infectious smile.
“Compassionate, smart,” Whitham said. “Did a lot of research on medical information.”
Taylor is the first person to die from COVID-19 within the agency.
“It’s always a thought as a Chief, that you’re going to have something occur to an employee,” Whitham said. “We don’t want to face it, we don’t want to ever sit there and hope for the best, but also, at the same time we have to be prepared to face it.”
Chief Whitham said, since the start of the pandemic, crews have taken steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We disinfect thoroughly after every medical call,” Whitham said. “We’ve got ultraviolet disinfectant machines [and] we’ve got fogging machines that spray disinfectant spray.”
He added that they know the dangers they face by being first responders.
“You may not like wearing a mask, I don’t always like wearing a mask,” Whitham said. “It’s not necessarily us we have to protect, it’s everybody else.”
The department is now working on ways to honor Taylor and support his family. He is survived by his wife and mother.
Chief Whitham said that when it warms up, the department will find a way to honor Taylor with a memorial.
Taylor’s family has asked privacy during this difficult time. Those looking to make donations to his family can do so at the Edwardsville Fire Headquarters.