DENVER, Colo. — More than 165 emergency vehicles and three helicopters were part of a procession held Sunday night to honor Paul Cary, a Colorado paramedic who died from COVID-19 in New York City, after volunteering to be deployed to the area to help healthcare workers.
Cary’s body arrived at Denver International Airport around 7 p.m. and was then taken to a local funeral home. The procession followed the hearse from the airport to UCHealth's University of Colorado Hospital where hospital staffed lined the sidewalks to watch the vehicles, with lights and sirens activated, drive by.
Cary spent 32 years with Aurora Fire Rescue, before retiring.
He answered FEMA's call to help take care of COVID-19 patients at the height of the pandemic in New York and traveled to NYC to begin working on April 1. He then became sick and was hospitalized April 21 before dying on April 30.
"It's very sad, he was an amazing guy," said Mia Martin, an Emergency Department social worker at UCHealth.
She said she met Paul after the University of Colorado Hospital moved from the old Health Sciences Center to the Anschutz campus.
"He would come in nights...and pick up my psych patients for transfer," she said. "I joked around with him, and he was always so gentle with them, and very good to them."
"The sacrifice that he made was a selfless sacrifice. He did it to help, he did it to make this world a better place," said Matthew Bergland, a Lifeline paramedic.
Bergland said he didn't know Paul personally, but he thinks the retired paramedic would have been honored by the procession, and at the same time, would have thought it was not warranted.
"It's wonderful to be recognized," Bergland said. "We love to be recognized for what we do, but none of us consider ourselves heroes. This is what we do."
Cary was part of Ambulnz’s State of New York COVID Response Team. Company 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.
Cary is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.
This story was originally published by Robert Garrison at KMGH.