Volunteer Firefighter International

Firefighters Fundraise for Volunteer Chief Hospitalized with COVID-19

The 55-year-old chief had no underlying conditions; he’s been on a ventilator for more than three weeks

By Alex Jokich, KSTP

A western Wisconsin community is rallying around its fire chief, who has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for 24 days.

Fire Chief Don Kittelson is a third-generation firefighter who has served the Clayton Fire Department for 34 years. The small, rural village is about an hour northeast of the Twin Cities.

Related: How Fire Depts Can Prepare for the Next COVID-19 Spike

Kittelson’s family said he contracted the virus following an exposure to his wife in late October. The 55-year-old man with no underlying health conditions developed significant difficulty breathing and was initially admitted to Amery Hospital in Wisconsin. He was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul on Nov. 10 and has been in the ICU on a ventilator ever since, ultimately developing pneumonia and meningitis.

“He’s a big guy, he’s strong, so to see him so helpless, it’s really hard,” said his wife, Jenny Kittelson. “This is not something we would ever dream of going through.”

“Here’s our chance, not by choice, but our chance to give back to him and show him what he has done for us,” said Second Assistant Fire Chief Jenny Bergmann of the Clayton Fire Department.

The department started selling yard signs for $20, with a message that reads: ‘We support Chief Don… Come home safe.’ The proceeds will go to the Kittelson family to help with lost income and other expenses.

Read the full story here.

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