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Pell City firefighter returns home after months long battle with COVID-19

Pell City Firefighter comes home

Captain Jeff Rogers sits at his home surrounded by fellow Pell City firefighters including Chief Tim Kurzejeski

PELL CITY — A Pell City fireman is back home this week after a months long battle with COVID-19. 

Captain Jeff Rogers came home from the hospital Wednesday aboard Pell City’s Fire Engine 1, the truck he works on as part of the Pell City Fire Department. 

Rogers said he is very happy to be home. 

“I’m feeling much better,” he said. 

Rogers said he spent much of the month of September in a coma and much of October bed ridden while he battled the disease. He said one of the best parts of being out of the hospital is being able to leave the hospital room.

“I was confined to a bed the whole time,” Rogers said. “It feels good to not be confined to one room.”

He said the experience was harrowing as not only was he sick but he was not allowed to work and do what he loves to do. The captain said he felt trapped. 

“I’ve never been in jail, but I imagine it was like that,” Rogers said. “It took me away from what I know and what I do.”

He said coming out of a coma is also a strange thing to experience as a person. Rogers said he woke up to find that his mother had been kept on life support during his coma and passed not long after he woke up. He said the hospital had resisted him going to the funeral until his fellow firefighters convinced the doctors to allow them to take him. 

Rogers said his daughter also had a baby who he didn't get to hold until she was two-months old.

He said his son also told him that the Auburn Tigers beat LSU, which made him joke that maybe he should go back to sleep, so they could get a good season in.

Rogers said the department and the fire crew he works with have been very supportive of him while he's been recovering.

“The department has gone well beyond anything I could expect,” he said. “I’m just grateful for what the department did for me.” 

Chief Tim Kurzejeski, who recently dedicated the firefighter of the year award to Rogers at the annual chamber of commerce award luncheon, said his department was doing what they needed to do for one of their own. The chief said for example that the department decided from the beginning that Rogers was coming home and he was going to make the trip on the truck he worked on.

During his dedication for the award Wednesday, Kurzejski became emotional when discussing Rogers. He said Friday that it's been a difficult time for many in the department personally, even himself. Kurzejski said he and Rogers have worked together for over 20 years and the department is like a family. 

“It's tough when you work with someone for so long,” he said. “This is a big family.”

The chief said that has not transferred over to the service the department provides, however. 

“Everyone came together, the whole department came together,” Kurzejeski said. “Everyone did what the Pell City Fire Department does.”

He said the department made sure the work got done and Rogers' family got taken care of. 

Rogers said he is going through physical therapy to deal with the after effects of being confined to bed. He said the process is slower than he’d like. 

“It's step by step working muscle by muscle,” Rogers said, adding that he isn’t where he wants to be, but he's getting there. 

He said he is hoping to be able to return at the beginning of next year. Rogers said he has missed the people he works with.

 

Taylor Mitchell is a Daily Home reporter covering Pell City.