Wife of Unvaccinated Firefighter on Ventilator: 'He Thought He Was Safe'

The wife of an unvaccinated firefighter in Indiana is calling on residents to get inoculated against the novel coronavirus after her husband ended up on a ventilator.

In a Facebook post on July 20, the Pipe Creek Fire Department announced that one of their own firefighters, Justin Guillemette, contracted COVID-19 and asked residents to pray for him and his family.

"We are asking for everyone to keep our beloved Firefighter/Ems Chief Justin Guillemette and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he fights for his life in a battle with Covid. Justin has always been one of the first to help out anyone he could in a time of need," the Pipe Creek Fire Department wrote in the post.

While speaking with WTHR news in Indiana, Justin Guillemette's wife, Holli, explained that her husband was unsure about the COVID-19 vaccine and since contracting the novel virus, his condition continues to worsen.

"It was a little bit of a battle between he and I," Holli told WTHR. "There was fear of the unknown, I think. Also, he thought he was safe. He felt he was taking enough proper protocols and the people around him that he would be OK and it hit him like a ton of bricks. Now, he is in the fight for his life. I mean that's basically the only way I can put it."

Holli told WTHR that doctors have placed her husband on a ventilator and an ECMO machine to help his breathing, which she described as a "last effort to save COVID patients."

"We don't know if he'll ever come home and have been told that if he does, it's going to take a lot of therapy to get him to even halfway normal, if ever," she said, according to WTHR.

Since her husband contracted the novel coronavirus, Holli has created a Facebook page to help keep family and friends updated on Justin's condition.

In the most recent update on the Facebook page, titled "Justin Guillemette's Journey," Holli explained that doctors were able to reduce the level of the ECMO machine and the ventilator while the elasticity of Justin's lungs increased.

"All of this is great news but still small changes in the scheme of things. Right now the doctors are saying they are cautiously optimistic. They have said that this is currently an uphill battle, but they can tell he is fighting really hard to come back to us," Holli wrote in the Facebook post. "Things could still take a bad turn as they warned us today but I am way more hopeful after the progress these past 2 days. I'm continuing to pray every day that he eventually gets to come home to us."

See posts, photos and more on Facebook.

Holli also previously announced that the city of Elwood and a local hospital were holding a vaccine clinic in Justin's name.

"If you haven't been vaccinated for COVID-19, please think about getting it done. This is a very serious virus and I would hate to see it affect any other families the way it has mine," Holli wrote in the post announcing the vaccine clinic.

While speaking with WTHR, Holli made similar remarks, saying, "Some people say 'the vaccines aren't 100 percent.' Well, they may not be 100 percent. but they may keep you from becoming as severe as he is. The last thing I ever want to see is anyone else go through what we have."

The situation the Guillemette family is facing comes as health officials have continued to stress the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Data from the Indiana State Department of Health shows that just 50.6 percent of all adults in the state are considered fully vaccinated.

Newsweek reached out to the Pipe Creek Fire Department for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

COVID-19 Vaccine
The wife of an unvaccinated firefighter in Indiana is calling on residents to get vaccinated after her husband was placed on a ventilator. Above, syringes and vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered to front-line health care workers in Renown Health in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020. Patrick T. Fallon/Getty