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EMS in the News

NYC paramedic could only give daughter ‘air hug’ on her birthday

By Michael Kaplan                  April 25, 2020            NEW YORK POST

Erika Smith, an FDNY paramedic, is living at the Four Seasons hotel in midtown. Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Erika Smith is a 38-year-old FDNY paramedic working out of Battalion 26 in the South Bronx. The Middletown, NY, resident is staying at a Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan rather than risk infecting her four children, husband and mother. My daughter Nalya celebrated her 14th birthday on April 20. I drove home to Middletown — but I had to stand outside our house, look at Nalya from a distance and give her an air hug. I cried. I was too scared to embrace my daughter. She's asthmatic and I couldn't take the chance of making her sick. Every day, I treat people who are infected with this disease and I can't risk bringing it home — especially since my my mother has heart issues. That's why I'm staying in a hotel.

The Four Seasons is very nice and the room is beautiful. I feel fortunate just to have a shower and a bed after spending all day going into homes of people who are sick. I spend more time working than I do in the room. I go there to recover, exercise and sleep. There are no amenities, but twice a week I bag the bedding and place it outside the door. Then a person in a hazmat suit — like the one I wear at work, actually — takes it away and leaves fresh ones. Right now I am doing what's necessary. Dealing with death is always difficult but one tragic call after the other is overwhelming. I tell myself that this, too, shall pass. — As told to Michael Kaplan

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