A Colorado paramedic who traveled to New York City to help treat coronavirus patients has died of the virus, his family announced Thursday.
"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," the family said in a statement.
The 66-year-old paramedic from Aurora leaves behind two sons and four grandchildren.
Through his work with Ambulnz — a private ambulance company — Cary volunteered to lend assistance to the hardest-hit city in the country, despite the fact that his age increased the risk of severe illness from the virus.
"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," Ambulnz said in a statement.
At a news conference Thursday night, Ambulnz representatives said Cary had traveled to New York City in late March and started work on April 1, NBC affiliate KUSA reported. He was intent on going to New York to help, they said.
"Accepting Paul’s commitment to serving others in need, we respected his choice to volunteer to be part of Ambulnz’s response team to the COVID-19 crisis in New York City," Cary's family's statement said. "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."
Cary was working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, stationed at the Bronx Zoo, helping transport coronavirus patients all over the city.
"If you knew Paul, he was extremely devoted to his work and very excited about going," said Rick Diemert, Colorado's operations manager of Ambulnz. "He was very, very devoted."
Cary started showing symptoms around April 20 and was admitted to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, where he was eventually put on a ventilator, an Ambulnz representative said.
The New York City Fire Department paid tribute to Cary on Facebook.
“Paramedic Paul Cary spent a lifetime helping and caring for others,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said. “He bravely served the people of Aurora, Colorado for three decades and then, as the COVID-19 pandemic attacked our city, he bravely came to help New Yorkers as well. All of us in the FDNY mourn his loss.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city would hold a special memorial for Cary.
"Paul gave his life for us, and we’re going to honor him in a particular way," de Blasio said.
"We have lost someone who came to our aid, to our defense," he said. "He did not have to do it. He made the choice to come here to save lives."
"It's very painful, it's heroic ... it just hurts that such a good man has made the ultimate sacrifice for us. So to the Cary family, we honor Paul’s sacrifice, we honor what Paul did," de Blasio said. "We honor all of you. We grieve with you."