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First Responder Worried About Her EMS Friend Now Also Hospitalized

Paramedic Sherry Singleton is on the front lines of the city’s coronavirus crisis.
Paramedic Sherry Singleton was on the front lines of the city’s coronavirus crisis. Now she’s in a hospital.
Photo: Courtesy of Sherry Singleton

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The FDNY paramedic who started a fundraiser for her COVID-19-stricken colleague and friend says she’s now hospitalized and isolated with symptoms of the virus.

“I am saddened to say, I have been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia,” Sherry Singleton, 33, texted THE CITY at 12:30 a.m. Thursday from her hospital bed. “I was given Toradol for pain with no relief and have just received morphine.”

A few hours later, she texted that she was awakened by nurses for a round-the-clock check of vitals and “was just given a shot of Heparin in my abdomen to prevent blood clots.”

Singleton said her friend and fellow paramedic Christell Cadet remained in intensive care at a different hospital, on a ventilator and on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

“Thank you for your continued support and prayers for Cadet,” Singleton posted Thursday on Cadet’s GoFundMe appeal, which has raised more than $15,000.

“I humbly ask if you could please incorporate me into those prayers,” Singleton added, stressing that she was not looking for donations for herself.

She described her symptoms as “low grade fever (99.5), loss of smell, loss of taste, stuffy nose, productive cough, eye pain, headaches, loss of appetite, hot flashes, restlessness, shortness of breath upon exertion and lying flat/on my side, extreme right flank pain (pneumonia is currently in right lung) and overall tiredness and lethargy.”

Sick Calls Rise

Singleton’s illness comes as the coronavirus pandemic pounds EMS. It also comes as the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York issued grim guidance to ambulance crews that if they can’t resuscitate a patient in the field, they must declare the person dead, the New York Post reported.

FDNY EMT Sherry Singleton, left, with Christell Cadet, who has been intubated and remains in isolation after contracting coronavirus.
Sherry Singleton, left, with Christell Cadet.
Courtesy of Sherry Singleton

Union officials say more than 20% of EMS first responders are out sick amid a 50% increase in daily 911 calls. Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a joint venture with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to bring 250 ambulances and 500 EMTs and paramedics to help.

The Fire Department reported Thursday that approximately 3,000 members, including EMS and firefighters, are on medical leave. A total of 338 firefighters, EMS and civilian employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Our members are out there doing their jobs, but if we don’t get more help, we’re not going to survive this,” Jennifer Aguiluz, a union executive board member of FDNY EMS Local 2507, told THE CITY. “If we all get sick, who’s going to pick up you guys?”

‘First Wave of Symptoms’

Last week, Singleton told THE CITY she was dealing with “a mix of paranoia and anxiety” while working long hours. After finishing a busy double shift on Sunday, her second that week, Singleton returned home exhausted.

“I awoke Monday with the first wave of symptoms,” she texted THE CITY.

On Wednesday, she landed in the hospital when she started having breathing trouble.

“I had decreased urine output and severe right flank pain,” she reported. “I had chest pressure and shortness of breath when lying down.”

Emergency room staff gave her two liters of saline, which enabled her to urinate, she said. They also did a CAT scan of her kidneys, which showed “they were fine.”

Adding to her worries: Her fiance has also been stricken with a 101-degree fever and body aches.

“Thank God” he is not hospitalized, she said. “His symptoms began one day after mine.”

While she is unable to have visitors, Singleton spoke via a video-call with her 13-year-old son, who has been staying with family for several weeks to limit his chance of catching the virus from his mom.

“He’s scared,” she texted. “I did my best to calm his fears.”

Singleton added that she was beginning Day 4 of her COVID-19 battle “with each day worse than the day before.”

“I am extremely tired,” she texted. “Like I can’t get enough sleep/rest.”

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