Katie Basic, the paramedic in charge at the Chicago Fire Department, spoke of Pickering's service.
"He was a hero on multiple levels," Basic said. "As a paramedic as a firefighter and as a family member."
Services for member Michael Pickering underway. CFD thanks Burbank and Evergreen Park for providing flag trucks at services. pic.twitter.com/VyfGPgK9Qc— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) October 16, 2021
The loss of any colleague hits close to home for these firefighters, but this one is especially hard for Basic. She met Pickering when they were both 19 years old.
"Knowing somebody for that long," Basic said. "It's important to understand that we've seen each other's successes and triumphs and growth throughout all the years and that's kind of what are the different kind of bond and I can say is in some ways I see them truly as a brother."
It was a grim day for this family of first responders. Hundreds of them were there Saturday to say goodbye to the fourth Chicago firefighter killed by COVID-19. It's a loss that has put the pandemic into perspective.
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"It's just devastating," Basic said. "And it just brings such a reality to the complexity and the challenges that COVID has brought as a health care provider, and to the community."
Pickering first joined the Chicago Fire Department in 2003 and was assigned to Engine 29 in the Bridgeport neighborhood. His relatives say he got sick a few weeks ago and was eventually hospitalized and placed on a respirator.
"With our family, we get through," Basic said.