“It was so busy when we first got here… We had a few long days,” stated fellow paramedic and friend, Royce Davis. Both Davis and Cary were stationed in the Bronx where they were helping with facility transfers with on-demand ambulance service Ambulnz. Davis recalls how they would constantly look out for each other amid the city's battle with the coronavirus.
“We would see each other every day, check up on each other, make sure we were rested, and doing good,” Davis recalled.
Cary, a retired firefighter who worked for three decades with Aurora Fire Rescue, arrived in New York City in late March, days before authorities issued an emergency alert “seeking licensed health care workers.”
For three weeks, Cary drove an ambulance transporting COVID-19 patients to hospitals and helped dispatch 911 calls due to the high volume. He started feeling sick shortly after signing up for a second 30-day deployment in New York. He was admitted to the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx where he eventually succumbed to the disease.
Cary had been employed by Ambulnz, which deployed 72 employees from across the country, including California, Tennessee and Colorado, to help in New York.
“Paul’s career is best defined by his kindness and service to others during his time as a paramedic at Ambulnz, and before that as a firefighter/paramedic of more than 30 years with the Aurora, Colorado Fire Department,” read an official statement from the company.
On May 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that New York City was grieving for Cary and that the city would erect a memorial to him.
“We have lost someone who came to our aid, to our defense,” the mayor 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.”
“Thank you to Paul’s family,” de Blasio added. “We will remember him and memorialize him. It’s so important to remember this great example of heroism.”
On May 3, the fallen paramedic's body was escorted by an honor guard and procession -- with more than 50 ambulances and first responders -- to Newark Liberty International Airport. His remains were then flown to Denver, where a second ceremony took place.
“He risked his own health and safety to protect others and left this world a better place,” Cary's 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.”
Cary was among the thousands of first responders who traveled to New York to help the city during one of its darkest hours. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, more than 94,000 active and retired healthcare workers have signed up online to help in New York City, including more than 27,000 from outside the state. City officials have stated that the additional help from these workers has been invaluable.
His passing comes as infection rates in New York City and the surrounding areas have slowly declined, even as cases outside the state continue to rise.
Visit Pandemic.news for the latest updates on the COVID-19 infection and death rates in New York and the rest of the United States.