A paramedic has shared the awful moment he had to ignore a screaming father to concentrate on treating the man’s young daughter as she died of coronavirus.

Recalling the April 9 death in New York City’s Bronx, Emergency Medical Technician Phil Suarez recalled: ‘There was a fifteen year old that morning.  Nobody wanted to say it, but I knew from the beginning she wasn’t going to make it. There were no available units.

‘It took us too long to get there.  It was a fifth floor walk up.  She was a past a certain level.  I had a gut feeling that most likely it wasn’t a good outcome.   The family was very upset, the father the whole time was on his knees with his arms stretched out screaming. 

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‘She had been sick. There was an underlying history of asthma.  It’s not on me, we did the best we could.  You don’t want to lose anybody.  That stings. There’s something in our business, the kids, the babies, they’re sacred.’

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Explaining how he balanced trying to save his patient while in the presence of her understandably hysterical father, Phil said: ‘I didn’t get to talk to the family.’

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‘We were there, but we’re not really there. We’re focused on the rescue efforts. We try and stabilize as quickly as possible and the get to the ambulance just because of the infectious risk.’

As New York City – once the world’s coronavirus epicenter – slowly begins to reopen and return to normality, Phil has spoken out to remind people of the threat of coronavirus.

While the city’s residents were locked inside their apartments at the start of the pandemic, Phil spent his days confronted with more death and despair than at any other point in his 26 year career.  

‘There was an overwhelming amount of death in a very short amount of time,’ he said. ‘It was scary. It was real.’  

Phil shared photos from the height of the outbreak, including the remains of a suspected Covid patient found dead in a Manhattan subway station, in a bid to urge people to stay safe and remain cautious about the virus.

He said that on his worst day, he experienced four cardiac arrest calls in one shift, quadruple the amount of a pre-Covid shift, which he described as ‘not normal.’

‘They were all dead when we got there,’ he said. ‘Except for the 25-year-old. We resuscitated him.’ 

He said that at the peak of the pandemic, they reached 7200 medical emergencies in 24 hours, which was nearly double the number of pre-Covid 911 calls.  

Suarez is also a father of two kids and his wife works in healthcare, so they decided to have the family stay together throughout the pandemic instead of locked away in separate rooms.

‘I did not want to live in a hotel, and just go be by myself,’ he said.  ‘That would have been a dark place.’ 

Phil’s career has seen him treat people following the 9/11 terror attacks in September 2001, and also head up a trauma care unit in Mosul, Iraq, for US servicemen and women deployed to fight Isis.

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But he says he felt safer in those situations than in working as a paramedic during the Covid pandemic because there was no way to mitigate the danger. 

‘I started seeing it everywhere,’ he said. ‘It was on my clothes, the door handles, the dash board.  Every breath you take, it’s there.  I felt much more vulnerable than I’ve ever felt in my life.’ 

He said that at the peak of the pandemic, they reached 7200 medical emergencies in 24 hours, which was nearly double the number of pre-Covid 911 calls.  

And while it may feel like Covid has miraculously disappeared from the city, Suarez said that he feels like there is a good chance it will come back.  

‘I was talking to some nurses and they are starting to see it now,’ he said.  ‘There are more cases than just a few weeks ago.’ 

Suarez wants to warn people that if we don’t start taking precautions now, then we may be headed in ‘a bad direction.’ 

‘When it hit our shores, we weren’t prepared,’ he said. ‘I hope we are listening now. It will come back here. My gut feeling is there will be a second wave.’ 

‘Those that have listened to politics that this is not that bad, those people that don’t believe science, they are not gonna listen to what I have to say.’ he said.  

He wants to remind people not to let their guard down, that there was a time when hospitals had met their capacity and were scrambling to find ventilators for people struggling to breathe. 

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‘It would be wise for everybody to just do their parts, forget politics and just wear a mask,’ he said. ‘If everybody just sacrificed a year, maybe we’d be in a better place.’

When asked about what he would do if Covid ever runs its course, he immediately mentioned his family.  

‘I haven’t seen my family in well over a year,’ he said. ‘I can’t go see them, but that’s okay. God willing, we’ll survive this, and be able to go when things are better.’ 

Until then, the virus rages on across America.  There are over seven million coronavirus cases and over 200,000 deaths.  New York had over 23,000 deaths.  

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