Tributes & Vigils Category: Coronavirus Vigils
On the same day that New York City’s 911 dispatchers fielded a volume of calls not seen since the Sept. 11 attacks, Paul Cary, a paramedic, set out for the nearly 1,800-mile drive from Denver to New York City in an ambulance.
Mr. Cary, a retired firefighter who worked for three decades with the Aurora Fire Department, was known for being a skilled paramedic who was willing to pitch in to cover the shifts of co-workers.
A colleague, Rick Diemert, described Mr. Cary as a “really, really dependable gentleman.”
Mr. Cary arrived in New York City in late March, days before the authorities issued an emergency alert about the growing coronavirus pandemic: “Seeking licensed health care workers.”
For three weeks, Mr. Cary transported Covid-19 patients to hospitals by ambulance and helped dispatch 911 calls because of the high volume.
Mr. Cary, 66, had already signed up for a second 30-day deployment in New York when he started feeling sick. Eleven days later — on Thursday — he died from Covid-19 at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Mr. Cary was employed by Ambulnz, an ambulance company that deployed 72 employees from across the country, including California, Colorado and Tennessee, to help in New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that New York was grieving for Mr. Cary and that the city would erect a memorial to him.
“We have lost someone who came to our aid, to our defense,” he said. “And there’s something particularly painful when someone does the right thing — a fellow American comes from across the country to try to help the people of New York City, and while working to save lives here, gives his own life. It’s very painful.”
Mr. Cary’s colleagues will remember him for his kindness and his service to others, Mr. Diemert, operations manager for Ambulnz, said at a news conference.
Mr. Cary’s two sons and four grandchildren said they were devastated.
“He risked his own health and safety to protect others and left this world a better place,” the family said in a statement. “We are at peace knowing that Paul did what he loved and what he believed in, right up until the very end.”
Mr. Cary was among the thousands of front-line responders who, answering calls for help during the coronavirus crisis, traveled to New York during one of its darkest times.
New York officials have said the additional help from retired and active health care workers has been invaluable. More than 94,000 have signed up online to work in New York City, including more than 27,000 from outside New York, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office.
“Our condolences go out to Mr. Cary’s family and friends,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Saturday. “He was serving an important role as part of the whole-of-America Covid-19 response in the New York area.”
On Sunday, an honor guard and a large procession of emergency vehicles will leave a funeral home on Staten Island, headed to Newark Liberty International Airport. Mr. Cary’s body will then be flown to Denver, where a second ceremony will take place.