Bay Area firefighter shares a moment of levity amid COVID-19 response

A little levity and humor can go a long way during time of stress and uncertainty. That’s a sentiment not lost on a Bay Area firefighter whose department in recent days has responded to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Like all first responders, Mark DeWeese, along with his colleagues in the Moraga Orinda Fire District (MOFD), have been gearing up in preparation for COVID-19 cases in their community.

Mark DeWeese is a 15-year veteran of the Moraga Orinda Fire Dist. (Mark DeWeese)

The response hit a heightened level last week, after 27 people tested positive at a nursing facility in Orinda. Since then, the number of cases at the Orinda Care Center has surged to at least 49 testing positive. 

On Monday, DeWeese and his colleagues were outfitted in personal protective equipment (PPE) and trained on how to use the gear. "They are for use on anyone from that facility or any known positive COVID-19 person we transport,” DeWeese told KTVU.

Like other families of those on the frontlines of the outbreak, DeWeese’s family has expressed their concern about his safety. So since he was all suited up, the firefighter thought having them see him in the PPE would offer some comfort. 

“They are worried about me at work so I sent the picture to show them how protected and careful we are all trying to be,” DeWeese explained. 

The response from his younger sister and her family was priceless, and it clearly offered some much needed comic relief. DeWeese shared it with friends on Facebook.

"The stressful time at MOFD with the Covid 19 outbreak in Orinda was lightened a bit when my little sister Noelle DeWeese and her kids pointed my new outfit makes me look exactly like Stuart the Minion from Despicable Me,” he said in a post along with a side-by-side of him next to his Minion twin.

The post naturally prompted further ribbing from friends who joked, "Someone get the man some blue overalls to complete the ensemble!” Another commented, “It’s a good look on you!”

And of course, there were plenty of expressions of gratitude with people thanking DeWeese for his service and dedication. 

The 15-year veteran of the MOFD is serving the community in which he and his family call home, and it's also where he grew up.

"Department is doing really well and we are happy to be able to do our part,” DeWeese said. "COVID-19 is everywhere so it’s no surprise it is also where I grew up, live, and work.” 

He added that in this line of work and especially during hard times, a reason to smile and laugh can serve as a wonderful gift. "Self deprecating humor, finding hilarious moments, and a thick skin are required for a career in the fire service.”