BROOKVILLE — Jefferson County Emergency Management Services Deputy Chris Clark explained a recent situation which led to two county EMS workers being hospitalized with COVID-19 complications during the recent county commissioners meeting.
The two EMS workers are Holly Buskirk Siple and Angie Fisher. Siple is currently a dispatcher with the Jefferson County 911 Center, and was a firefighter for many years, which is how she and her husband Rob met. She spent many years as a Reynoldsville Falcons Cheer coach, volunteers with the local Girl Scouts, and works the election polls.
Fisher currently works in a hospital emergency room as a nurse, works with DuBois EMS and Jefferson County EMS and is a volunteer member of both McCalmont Township and Knox Township fire departments. She followed in her dad’s footsteps, who was also an EMT and firefighter for 44 years.
Both Siple and Fisher’s families have created GoFundMe pages to help cover some of their medical expenses from their extended hospital stays. Fisher’s can be found at https://gofund.me/15610c55 and Siple’s can be found at https://gofund.me/fd21ab0f
A benefit chicken and biscuit dinner to assist with Siple’s medical expenses has been scheduled for Sunday, June 27, at the Reynoldsville Fire Department, beginning at 11 a.m. Tickets will be available at the door and will cost $12 each.
Clark referenced Siple’s case during the meeting to express the difficulty of getting a COVID test, and to share how hard she’s fought.
“One of our own dispatchers a week ago experienced a fever and symptoms of COVID...The dispatcher attempted a few different entities to get a COVID test. The dispatcher couldn’t get scheduled for several days from that point, which to me was completely not acceptable for somebody to have to wait several days,” Clark said.
“But why after a year, and millions of tests later, is it still hard to get a test? It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Clark said. “I think it should be made easier for them (healthcare providers) to be able to provide tests for people, and for some reason they are still struggling to do that and are bound by an upper echelon somewhere that doesn’t allow them to readily make them available.”
Before test results came back, Siple was rushed to the hospital with sudden poor oxygen perfusion, experiencing a sudden decline in just two hours.
“Less than 24 hours later, our dispatcher had a 1 percent chance of survival because of complications with COVID,” Clark said.
Fisher’s father, Rich Fisher, said his daughter has been hospitalized since May 12 after receiving a positive test on May 10.
“We had two kind of scary phone calls from down there (the hospital), wanting to know if we wanted to go above and beyond with her health, and she’s 36 years old. We want to do it all,” Fisher said.
He explained that the coronavirus severely affected her lungs, and the X-rays of them were very bad the first week she was in the hospital.
She is currently battling COVID-19, pneumonia and bacterial pneumonia. She is on antibiotics, and her sedation and ventilator is being slowly lowered.
Fisher said not only did Angie Fisher follow him into firefighting and EMS, but also followed her great-grandmother into the nursing field, and loves her work.
Her mother, Brenda Fisher, said the doctors have also started to reduce the flow of the ventilator she’s been on. She is starting to show signs of being able to hear doctors and nurses when they talk to her.
She is still considered in critical condition, but stable.
“There is not one inkling in my mind that my daughter won’t come walking back into this house,” Rich Fisher said.
He also said he has been in contact with Siple’s family, and that the two families have been sharing updates back and forth.
When Siple was admitted to the hospital, the doctors sent her husband, Rob Siple, home only to call him back a short two hours later to say they didn’t think she was going to make it.
“Little did they know, Holly is a fighter and wasn’t giving up. She made it through the night,” Siple’s family said in a statement.
Her kidneys started to fail, and at the pushing of her family, a team of doctors were brought in to start her on dialysis.
“We said as long as Holly is going to fight, so are we,” her family said. “They explained that inserting the dialysis tube could kill her, but we said doing nothing is going to kill her also, and Holly is fighting with everything she has so we will continue to fight with her.”
Her family said the doctors have been amazed at how hard she is fighting. There is still a long road of recovery ahead.
“She has a long road and there are some bumps in the future, but we as a family will continue to deal with them as they come,” the Siples said.