Loved ones are mourning a veteran Bucks County fire chief who died from the novel coronavirus.
Tullytown Assistant Fire Chief Rick Johnson had been hospitalized for a week after testing positive for COVID-19. He passed away on Friday at the age of 50.
Current and former firefighters gathered Saturday outside the hospital where Johnson died. A black ribbon was also placed on the doors of the Tullytown Fire Company Station in Johnson’s honor.
Johnson was an active member of the Tullytown Fire Company for 27 years. He wore many hats during his career but was also a husband, father and mentor to current Tullytown Fire Chief Aaron Cohen. Chief Cohen told NBC10 he would miss Johnson’s “presence” the most.
“Being able to contact him,” Cohen said.
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Cohen was unsure how Johnson got the novel coronavirus. He also didn’t know if he was the first Bucks County first responder to die from it. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health told NBC10 they would not reveal that information out of respect for patients’ privacy.
Chief Cohen said his fire company has received support from other departments across the country after Johnson’s death.
“The community, Facebook land, every other fire department in the country has reached out,” Chief Cohen said. “It’s a huge family we live in.”
Yet while Chief Cohen said the support has helped them cope, he also admitted the current lockdown and isolation has made it all the more difficult to deal with the tragedy.
“The worst part is not being able to see somebody, hold somebody or talk to somebody face to face right now,” he said.
The Tullytown Fire Company has precautions in place to protect their firefighters, including masks. They also don’t answer medical calls. Chief Cohen said they continue to advise residents to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.