DENVER – A Colorado paramedic who volunteered to travel to the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City to help treat patients has died from complications of the disease. He was 66.
Paul Cary was part of Ambulnz's State of New York COVID Response Team. He was deployed to New York to help health care workers there contain the deadly respiratory disease, which has claimed nearly 13,000 lives in the city alone as of Thursday evening.
"We were devastated to learn that our father and grandfather, Paul Cary, became the latest victim to die of COVID-19. Our family grieves his loss, and knows that all his friends and family will miss him greatly," Cary's family said in a statement following the announcement of his death. "He risked his own health and safety to protect others and left this world a better place. We are at peace knowing that Paul did what he loved and what he believed in, right up until the very end."
In a statement from Ambulnz, CEO Stan Vashovsky said Cary's career was best defined by his kindness and service to others.
"He would be the guy who would be available to pick up a shift whenever he was needed, pitch in with whatever project was needed," said a spokesperson for Ambulnz during a news conference Thursday evening. "Paul was very adamant about being part of this response."
Ambulnz officials said Cary started developing symptoms on April 19 or 20 and was admitted to Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx a day later. The company was notified of his death on Thursday.
"Paul made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and will forever be remembered as extremely dependable and completely devoted to his work," the statement from Vashovsky reads.
Cary was a firefighter and paramedic of more than 30 years in Aurora, Colorado, Vashovsky said.
"I mourn the passing of Paul Cary along with our AFR family," said Aurora Fire Chief Fernando Gray, Sr. "I did not have the honor to serve along with him, as he retired before my arrival in 2017, but I can assure you that his sacrifice and service will not be soon forgotten and his family is in my thoughts and prayers."
Cary is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.
The FDNY held a 60-vehicle procession in Cary's honor on Thursday night.
The New York City Office of Emergency Management issued a statement late Thursday.
"Paul left his family behind to join us on the front lines of this fight," the statement read, "and we will forever remember his heroic commitment as a first responder. NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell served alongside Paul as a firefighter with the Aurora, Colorado Fire Department, and remembers him as a selfless, devoted person, who put the needs of others before himself. That selfless nature was again displayed in his decision to deploy to New York City to help us in our time of need. We will continue to fight this battle until we have overcome, for Paul, and for all the lives we have lost along the way. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time, and our city will forever be grateful for the ultimate sacrifice he has made for his country and his fellow man."
This story was originally published by Óscar Contreras on KMGH in Denver and Aliza Chasan and Kala Rama on WPIX in New York City.