RICHMOND — When the state started to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak a few months ago, Scott Symonds and his wife, Amy, began to worry.
Both Surry residents are first responders, though Amy took time off from her two jobs as an LNA and EMT during the pandemic to take care of their two kids, of four, who still live at home.
But with Scott continuing his work as a lieutenant for Peterborough Fire and Rescue and as the town fire inspector, the couple was concerned the viral disease would spread throughout their household — especially to their 19-year-old daughter, Paige, who has cerebral palsy.
“As the positive cases began to grow in New Hampshire, it came to the point where we started to look at even apartments, just to isolate away from my family,” Scott, 43, said.
Looking for an answer to their dilemma, Amy stumbled across a Facebook page for RVs 4 MDs — a national volunteer-driven initiative created in late March to connect frontline workers with RV owners willing to lend their motor homes.
As of Tuesday, the program had served nearly 1,500 first responders across the country, according to Sue Troy, director of the state chapter.
Renting the RVs comes at no expense to the donor or the worker, she said, though there could be costs associated with the RV itself, such as heating and parking.
Scott has been staying in a fifth-wheel travel trailer since April 6 — provided by Ben Quarles of Leominster, Mass. — at the Shir-Roy Camping Area in Richmond, owned by friends of Scott.
Others using the program include a few people in Peterborough, as well as one person in Brattleboro, Troy said.
Scott said the process was simple, and the day after making his connection with the initiative, he was able to get his RV.
The trailer has a kitchenette, bathroom and separate bedroom, Scott said.
“I’m 6’ 1”, and not the smallest of fellas, so the biggest challenge is it’s a much smaller restroom than I’m used to, so showering and stuff like that takes a little bit of pre-planning, but it’s been fine,” he said.
The nights have also been a little brisk at times, he noted, with the unseasonable May snowstorm and low temperatures.
The hardest part, though, is not seeing his family. He’s seen them only once since April — this past weekend, for his birthday, Mother’s Day and a college graduation celebration for his daughter Liz — at a socially distanced driveway pizza party.
“Initially, it felt really isolating,” he said. “It took a little bit of time to get into the right mindset of, ‘This is the right thing to do’ ... but there are nights where I just want to go home.”
Through his duties with Peterborough Fire and Rescue, as well as volunteering at a few other local fire departments, Scott said he has come in contact with people who have COVID-19, and the risks of going home at this point outweigh the benefits.
He said he’s not sure when he’ll be able to get back to his family, and there is no set timeline for his rental trailer through the program.
Until then, Scott said he’s just grateful for the help.
“The organization that pulled this together is amazing,” he said. “More often than not, it’s just become recently that [first responders] get folded into that health-care network ... it’s been great to see so many folks recognize us.”
If interested in RVs 4 MDs, as a first responder or RV owner, join the program’s Facebook page, RVs 4 MDs to Fight the Corona Virus or fill out the form in the page’s “files” section.