KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department EMT Billy Birmingham is a beloved man, which is apparent from his large family and those he impacted over his 22 years as an EMT.
Two of his children spoke on Tuesday at a memorial in his honor after he died Monday from COVID-19 complications.
"When it comes to my father, I think the word that has been expressed the most is selflessness," Birmingham's only son, Billy, said.
The elder Birmingham died as he lived, his family said — giving to others. He made many friends and gave guidance as an EMT and minister.
He worked for the Metropolitan Ambulance Service Trust from 1998 to 2010 before it merged with the fire department, and worked for KCFD since then.
"We just love him and we just want everybody to know he wasn’t just somebody that was doing a job to get a paycheck. He did his job because he loved it," said his eldest daughter, Octavia Standley.
The family thanked the city for showing support and caring about their father. They also thanked the nurses and doctors at Research Medical Center who provided care for Birmingham.
They said although he was dying, he still had a smile on his face.
"He had a heart and a call for people, and I think anybody who chooses to be a firefighter, paramedic, police officers, doctor, nurse - you have to have a heart for people," Billy said.
Birmingham was sick for three weeks before passing away from complications related to COVID-19 on Monday, his family said. He had underlying health conditions.
The highway was shut down as the fire department, police department and family escorted Birmingham to the funeral home.
On Tuesday, the city turned on the Firefighters Fountain and Memorial on 31st Street in his honor.
"Billy did not lose his life. He gave his life in service to this community. He is truly a hero, he is truly our friend," said Tim Dupin, president of the IAFF Local 42, of which Birmingham was a member. "We love him, we love his family. We will never forget his service, his commitment to this city."
His family said he is a superhero.
"Our daddy gave his life in the line of duty and we are so proud of him," Standley said. "We are so proud of him."