Greensboro first responders squeeze in a Thanksgiving celebration at the firehouse

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Thanksgiving looked different for most people this year. As COVID-19 restrictions tightened, many people changed their plans, canceled their flights and tried to limit seeing most of their family and friends. 

“Thanksgiving at the firehouse is like any other shift,” said Greensboro Fire Lieutenant Cameron Madden. “You’re here to protect and serve.” 

Spending the holidays on the clock and away from family is common for first responders. 

“We all hate to leave our families on holidays, but the one thing that makes it okay is we know we’re helping the public,” said Guilford County EMS Captain Jason Vickers. 

First responders sacrifice all holidays at home for the greater good. Vickers said his colleagues try to create one of their own at the EMS Base 2 in High Point. 

“We know each other’s families,” he said. “We know each other’s situations.” 

However, this is different than years past. 

“Not only just preparing the food to bring to share with everyone,” said Vickers. “As you sit down to the table, how can we socially distance while we’re trying to eat lunch.” 

Madden’s family would normally stop by Greensboro Fire Station 52 to eat and spend time together, but this year COVID-19 restrictions stop them.

“Your family can’t really experience the time with you that they’re used to,” explained Madden.

He got creative to virtually bring his family to Thanksgiving dinner.

“A little bit of dinner prep with the guys,” he said over a cell phone video. “Try to do a video chat and let them experience the firehouse a little bit.” 

This year people are spending time away from their family for the first time. However, for these essential workers, this is just another day on the job. 

“Tell my family I love them when I leave every day,” Madden said. “No matter how the day or night went, leave on a solid note.” 

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