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NYC EMT spills her guts in memoir ‘First Responder’

“The second you put on a uniform, people forget you’re a human being,” writes ambulance EMT Jennifer Murphy in her memoir, “First Responder: A Memoir of Life, Death and Love on New York City’s Front Lines” (Pegasus Books), out Tuesday.

“They call you a hero. Endow you with superhuman qualities you may or may not possess. Bravery. Strength. Resilience. I’m not by nature a courageous woman. Bravery is a performance. It’s something I had to practice in order to excel at on the street, where the stakes were unbelievably high.”

The stakes have been by no means larger than final spring, when the town was hit arduous by COVID-19 and the streets have been full of ambulance shrieks. In the early days when masks weren’t extensively out there, Murphy was one among many first responders placing her personal well being and security on the road to assist others. At one level, she contracted COVID, however was unable to get a take a look at.

Author Jennifer Murphy at work as an EMT in COVID-ravaged NYC.
Author Jennifer Murphy at work as an EMT in COVID-ravaged NYC.
Cody Paiusco

While Murphy rejects any heroic labels, the popularity of the general public did make a distinction. “Finally, people saw us,” she writes. “The sirens forced them to see what we were doing out on the street. What we’d been doing all along, for years, invisible and alone … What a feeling, to be invisible for so long, and then to suddenly be seen.”

She describes the fear and frustration of that point, of making an attempt to assist in what was usually a helpless scenario. “We’re out of beds,” a sobbing nurse tells Murphy when she arrives on the hospital with a affected person. “We’re out of ventilators. We don’t have enough PPE. It’s all COVID. I can’t take it. It’s death after death after death.”

While the memoir is filled with struggling and loss, it’s additionally full of affection for what Murphy does and the folks she serves, together with a dying COVID affected person who asks if she will hug her (in opposition to her higher instincts, she consents). “I loved her. It was wondrous. Maybe that was why they called being a first responder a calling. Because the sacred started with a call.”