Connect with us

U.S. News

Plano Fire Chief Sam Greif returns to work after long battle with COVID-19



PLANO, TX – Plano Fire-Rescue Chief Sam Greif’s recovery from COVID-19 was a slow, incremental process that reached its nadir when he was hospitalized at Medical City Plano in early January. Even in the immediate aftermath of his 16-day stretch in inpatient care, Greif found that household tasks such as showering and getting out of bed to be strenuous ordeals, but that dark chapter is now behind him.

“All things considered, [I’m] doing really well,” he said. “Stamina is probably the biggest thing right now … I run out of gas pretty easy and get winded, but that’s just normal for trying to bring yourself back from bilateral pneumonia.”

Greif first tested positive for coronavirus on Dec. 28. His admission to Medical City happened six days later and lasted through Jan. 19. While he estimates that he has eight more weeks of recovery remaining before a full return to routine life, Greif nonetheless contends that Feb. 7 “turned a corner” for his health. That week, he even worked from home.

Still, Greif said that Plano Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief Chris Biggerstaff continued to oversee the bulk of operations, many of which were centered on administering emergency response to last week’s snow storm.

“It was an all-hands-on-deck effort,” he recalled. “Sleep was not even in the equation.”

Indeed, service demand exceeded normal levels as fire personnel shut off water mains throughout the city and assisted residents with other crises. During one 24-hour period, responders were dispatched to 1,067 calls.

Greif said that in a typical 24-hour period, Plano Fire-Rescue handles approximately 75 calls, meaning that service levels went up by approximately 1,400%.

“If we had anything that had wheels that you could put a warm body in, we had them out working,” he said. “They did it with such professionalism and such enthusiasm.”

Immediately following this turbulent week, Plano firefighters were greeted with Greif’s long-awaited return.

“It’s a good thing that I recovered, because they squeezed the stuffing out of me,” he laughed. “It feels good to put the uniform on and just be back amongst the troops, especially after the heroic effort last week.”

The hugs were similar to those that happened between Greif and his wife after his return home from Medical City Plano. “You couldn’t get a credit card between us for the first two or three days at home,” he said.

Greif credits her for caring for him during his illness and for even administering “tough love” when needed. He also spoke highly of Biggerstaff, who he called a “natural-born leader,” for overseeing Plano Fire-Rescue in his absence.

He also expressed overwhelming gratitude for the thoughts, prayers and well-wishes that came his way during his recovery, which came in the form of his admission to prayer lists around the world. One person even sent him a card that was written in Chinese.

“It’s truly been humbling and just a sense of gratefulness in my heart for all of the people that have worried about me, prayed for me, called [me], checked on me, but also, for all those who checked on my wife,” he said. “If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s just seeing the best of mankind.”

Greif said he feels an obligation of “paying it forward,” but ever the diligent worker, he is especially elated to be back at work.

“I feed off the energy of all the enthusiasm and camaraderie. I just really enjoy hanging out with the guys. It’s the greatest profession in the world, and [I’m] just blessed to be here. I’m excited to be back and have COVID behind me,” he said.