As a rescue coordinator for the Texas County, David Prasifka was always on the hunt for how he could help his community.
Since last week, Prasifka became ill, with doctors diagnosing him with acute leukemia, according to Atascosa Judge Robert Hurley, who worked closely with Prasifka on the county’s Covid-19 efforts.
“David had led Atascosa County through the COVID-19 pandemic. His humor, heart and passion for not only his European Championship job, but his family will be missed by many,” the county officials added.
A lifelong commitment to serving others
Prior to being appointed Atascosa’s Rescue Coordinator nearly six years ago, Prasifka served with the Jourdanton Volunteer Fire Department for more than 25 years, first as a volunteer firefighter and then as chief.
“David jumps into things first. He never ran out of a problem,” said Don Penny, the county’s EMS director to CNN. “He looked like everyone else.”
In his role as emergency management coordinator, Prasifka already wore many hats. He would investigate if anyone was injured at work and would take action to prevent it from happening again. He would prepare the community for any dangerous weather events and update people about accidents or crimes around the county.
But when the pandemic hit and quickly became “overwhelmingly serious”, “Prasifka” went into all levels, “said Hurley, the county judge.
“He worked in the evenings, he got up early in the morning. He communicated with state officials when PPE was exceptionally short. He roamed across the state for that … Sometimes it meant running a few hundred miles to pick up PPE. no matter how far he had to go, what he had to do to get it. ”
Prasifka had also led the county’s efforts to organize the state Covid-19 tests and helped move the test sites around different locations to make it easier for people to test.
“We probably had more (test sites) in our county than any other our size, at least in our Texas area, and he drove them personally,” Hurley said. “There is no doubt (he helped save lives) … We had extremely low numbers for a county our size until they opened the bars and beaches.”
Two heavy diagnoses at the same time
Two weeks ago, Prasifka decided to test at one of its Covid-19 test sites “just to get it,” Hurley said, and it came back negative.
He had felt tired and lost weight, but he blamed on an abscessed tooth. Then on Monday, he began to faint spells, so he went to the doctor on the strong recommendation of his friends and family.
“David wasn’t the kind of person who would go to the doctor,” Hurley said. The doctor diagnosed him with acute leukemia and he went to a hospital in San Antonio, where he was tested again for coronavirus, a standard procedure in the hospital.
This time it came back positive.
“He called me Friday morning,” Hurley said. “He told me what his situation was and that he had tested positive, but that he felt good. They would start treating leukemia and everything would be fine. He was optimistic just as he always is.”
Later that night, Hurley was told by a family member that Prasifka was sitting on a fan. Then at noon the next day, his organs shut down.
“At 4:33 he was dead,” Hurley said.
Continues his work
On Monday morning, dozens of first responders from Atascosa and the neighborhood Bexar Prasifka’s body escorted from the hospital to the funeral home.
“I was standing on the road watching the procession and just crying,” Hurley said. “There were fire departments, police, emergencies from all over the world.
“Everyone is in a state of sadness about losing David. We still can’t believe he’s gone. He was always just there, always ready to help,” he added.
Penny, the county’s EMS manager, has worked to keep Prasifka’s work going.
“It’s really a shame that one of our biggest in Atascosa County, the one who worked hard to keep us straight, died (Covid-19),” Penny said. “I know I will continue his fight. We worked a lot here together and he taught me a lot about the aspects of his job.”
Prasifka leaves behind four sons, his wife, Donna and five grandchildren.
There are no funeral services right now, but his family is asking that people donate to leukemia or coronavirus research instead of flowers.