First responders who answered New York City's call at the height of the coronavirus pandemic will caravan out Thursday morning as hospitalizations rate steadily drop.
Jeremy Poole, a medic from south Georgia, is among the 1,600 first responders from out-of-state who initially came to the Big Apple in late March. He will finally get to quietly rest at home after helping answer some of the 35,000 emergency calls around the city for weeks.
"I’m from a town that’s got five red lights, this is a pretty big city for me," Poole told NBC New York on his last night in the city. “Coming in I probably wasn’t as fearful for myself, but getting here, it got a little real.”
There were hundreds of COVID-19 deaths each day at the peak of the infection and it was something none of them had ever experienced before. Poole and other EMTs like Warren Sams from Memphis were there to help people through terrifying times, but it was also hard on them.
"My grandma would write me letters, and I was scared to write her back, I didn’t want anything I touched to get sent home to her," Poole said.
As for Sams, he was stationed in Brooklyn, working out of his ambulance for 12 hours a day. "There were some tough nights, some tired nights, had tears here and there but made it through," he recalled.
“It was really hard in the ERs. The amount of people there, how you literally had to fight through stretchers to get to your patients...Everyone's asking for help and you just have to stay focused on your one task," Sams said.
While their mission is completed in the city, Sams says he'll always carry with him the lessons he learned from being in the epicenter of a pandemic. His goal now is to become an ER doctor.
The first responders are expected to roll out of Fort Totten around 8 a.m. Thursday and go over Whitestone bridge, where a nice show of support and gratitude is expected.