PHOENIX — The EMS community is coming together to help one of their own get back on his feet after both he and his son were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Garett Hensley has been a paramedic for 10 years and works for the medical transportation company AMR in Mesa.
The 51-year-old and the rest of his family were diagnosed with COVID last month. Hensley's condition quickly deteriorated.
"I have never felt that bad in my life. It was horrible," said Hensley.
He had trouble breathing, body aches, fever, and low oxygen levels. He ended up hospitalized for nearly two weeks.
While he was there, his 25-year-old son Nathanial with severe autism was also admitted.
"They ended up calling a code on him because he ended up going into respiratory arrest, and that's how he ended up intubated," said Hensley.
He was intubated for about a week but also had kidney failure and needed dialysis. Nathanial and his father were put in the same room.
"It was very difficult, very difficult," said Hensley.
Hensley works the EMS ambulance and responds to emergencies, so he's seen and taken care of sick COVID patients.
"I know this is a horrible virus. And I know that he was very very sick and we are lucky to have him still," said Hensley.
While they were both in the hospital, his EMS family decided to start a GoFundMe page to help Hensley and his family. Dozens of coworkers and friends have stepped up to donate money.
"I can't even begin to tell you how important that was for me. I know I had some friends; I didn't know I had so many," said Hensley.
Hensley's supervisor, Adam Yarlott, said he's known for his laugh and making people smile.
"I think that right there is a testament to Garett's character and how much he is loved," said Yarlott. "He's very easy to get along with, he's very easy to work with. He was a lot of knowledge both with work and in life in general. It's someone you can have a good time and joke around with."
On Christmas, while Hensley was still in the hospital, a few of the AMR ambulance crews dropped off food and gift cards for his wife and daughter in San Tan Valley.
"Knowing that my EMS family was able to take care of my family when I wasn't able to...there's no words," said Hensley.
Hensley still needs oxygen and can't walk very far, but he said he's looking forward to going back to work.
"We want to see him back safe and healthy, said Yarlott. "We miss his laugh a lot, his jokes a lot. It's definitely not the same at the station without him."
Nathanial is also back at home recovering and is doing much better.