With the amount of COVID-19 cases on the rise in the Denver area, specifically in Adams and Jefferson Counties, the City of Westminster decided it needed to amplify its message to the community in order to stop the spread of the pandemic. Westminster located community hotspots and specific neighborhoods where it utilized digital billboards and went door-to-door with door hangers that had information on how to stay safe and where testing is offered for free.
Storytelling is powerful tool in sharing a message that is relatable and engaging. So, we meet up with the City Manager, a high school student, a small business owner and first responders to hear what life is like for them. After sharing how COVID has effected their lives, each person looked into our camera with a reminder to the community to “stop the spread” and “wear a mask.”
My crew met Don Tripp, Operations Manager for Westminster, at the city’s scenic part. At least once a week, Tripp walks around the loop in the park. He not only loves this park for its beauty but also for the friendly people whom he sees. Don spoke about what it’s like now for him at the park and reminded everyone in the community what they can do to make a difference.
“I’ve never experienced anything like COVID in my 24 year career with Westminster Fire Department,” said Battalion Chief David Varney. “At the beginning on the pandemic, we were scrambling on how to protect ourselves and treat out patients. Now, we know what to do. We treat every patient as if they potentially have COVID to protect ourselves when we go into a home.”
“Normally, when we arrive on-scene, we like to get right inside,” firefighter and paramedic Jeremiah Overcash said. “Now, we must take a step back and first put on protective gear.”
Overcash says when he and the rest of his team at Fire Station 2 respond to 9-1-1 calls, they are finding multiple people in homes who have COVID and require treatment. He says COVID has created an interesting challenge to patient care and patient management and that is stressful.
“We are empathetic folks and we’re used to being able to comfort and connect with our patients,” said firefighter and paramedic Emilee Roman. “It’s hard because now there’s an added distance we must adhere to but it’s vital to keep everyone safe.”
“We all get COVID fatigue but that puts us at most risk for disease,” Lt. Jesse Smith said. “It kills across all age spectrums, young and old. They’re your co-workers and the people you care about. Now more than ever, everyone needs to do their part.”
That’s the same message a junior at Westminster High School shared with us. Zanaya met me and my team at school one morning when the school was empty. Westminster Public Schools had started the the 2020-21 school year with in-person learning but then, in early November, decided to have two weeks of at-home learning as a way to pause. Zanaya was expecting to return to school to see her friends a few days after we met but at the last minute, that was changed because of the rising number of confirmed cases in the community.
Zanaya admits to missing her friends but is most worried about getting sick or worse, getting her parents or grandparents sick so she encourages her teenage peers to always wear their masks.
Like with Zanaya, we paid a visit to 5280 Burger Bar before restrictions were tightened and the small business was forced to close its dining room. During the lunch hour we stopped in on, every other table was occupied. Masks were worn by employees who check their temperature at the start of each shift.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve done a lot of shifting in order to stay open and this community has responded so positively,” Director of Operations Todd Levick said. “Our food truck has been popular so has our family meals that people can pick up at the door. It’s been a lot of learning for us. The priority is that we can be there for what the guest is expecting and that we can do so in a way that keeps our staff safe and healthy.”
Aside from the 45 second to minute long stories Kyle Dyer Storytelling produced, we also produced 15 seconds vignettes. For those quick video stories, we added some graphic elements to help enforce the vital messaging.
It has never been more true to say that our choices may be individual but they make a big difference for all of us.
As firefighter/paramedic Ronan shared with me: “You may not know who around you is sick so we must care for everyone. Be kind. Wear you mask, limit your distance from others and stop the spread. That is the most selfless thing we can all do right now.”