The Hialeah Fire Department station 3 is located in a coronavirus hot spot.
According to the most recent data posted by the Florida Department of Health, the station’s zip code has over 4,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases - one of the highest numbers in the state.
Midiala Silverio, who has been a firefighter in Hialeah for 17 years, is one of them.
Silverio says her symptoms included a fever and body aches. She originally thought it was a bad flu until she took a COVID-19 test.
The veteran firefighter says the possibilities racked her mind.
“The fact that everybody was so worried about ventilators,” Silverio said in an exclusive interview with NBC 6. “Even though you didn’t have the symptoms, you’re concerned about at what point am I going to stop breathing. Am I going to have a ventilator available?”
Silverio and her husband, who also contracted the virus, eventually recovered. She has since returned to work on the front lines.
Hialeah Fire Rescue tells NBC 6 that 20 of their first responders have caught the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Among them was Karl Odin, the department’s assistant chief of operations.
“You know, we have to worry about the impact of losing personnel, who are our most valuable resource,” Odin said.
Odin says they had to pick up extra shifts and work overtime to deal with staff shortages during that time.
Silverio has a warning for others.
“Anybody can be exposed and not know it,” she said, adding, “Not everybody presents the same way, not everybody has symptoms.”
Odin says calls related to COVID-19 now make up the majority of the city’s medical calls.
NBC 6 Investigators followed Hialeah first responders as they helped collect plasma from people who have recovered from the virus and provided personal protective equipment to local senior care facilities.
Hialeah Fire Chief Willians Guerra told NBC 6 it’s important to remember the safer the public is, the less likely for first responders to put themselves in harm's way.