Front-Line Heroes: EMT Landy Familia ’16 Helping Folks in Need

Front-Line Heroes: EMT Landy Familia ’16 Helping Folks in Need

Front-Line Heroes: EMT Landy Familia ’16 Helping Folks in Need

New York City is at the epicenter of the Covid-19 health crisis, and as a New York City-based College that educates students committed to public service, our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are working on the front lines to keep our communities safe. Our “Front-Line Heroes” article series serves as a testament to the valiant efforts of our first responders and essential workers. As a community we thank them for their service, dedication, and personal sacrifice.

We spoke with Landy Familia ’16, a Queens, New York native who majored in Fire and Emergency Services at John Jay, and learned more about his experience working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) amidst the Covid-19 health crisis.

When did you first start to see and understand that this virus was going to have the impact that it has?
The company I work for provides interfacility transportation. Essentially, we transport a patient from one healthcare facility to another. Around the beginning of March, when my partner and I were given an assignment to transport a patient from one hospital to another hospital, we put on our personal protective equipment, entered the hospital and were taken aback by what we saw. Dozens of patients were coughing, having difficulty breathing, and many more were on ventilators. This was the first time I really experienced the full impact of Covid-19. My first concern was the level of fear and panic this would cause as well as the toll it would take on various daily services.

“Dozens of patients were coughing, having difficulty breathing, and many more were on ventilators. This was the first time I really experienced the full impact of Covid-19.” —Landy Familia

Now that the virus is acutely affecting our communities, and you’re directly on the front line, what does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day begins with getting to work on time and checking my assigned ambulance to make sure we are appropriately stocked. Then, my partner and I inform our communications center that we are available to receive assignments and we wait for further instruction. We receive our assignments on a mobile computer within the ambulance. If an assignment states a patient is experiencing signs and symptoms of Covid-19, my partner and I must put on protective equipment before making patient contact. Such protective equipment includes: an N95 mask, a gown, gloves, and goggles. In other assignments not related to Covid-19, we still need to wear the most appropriate protective equipment, and guidelines are frequently being updated to make sure us first responders are protecting ourselves while working.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to do their part to stop the spread of Covid-19. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I truly believe that we will come out on top of this pandemic.” —Landy Familia

What do you want people to know about your experience as a first responder and working on the front lines of this global health crisis?
It’s my hope that communities know that we’re trying our very best out there. I want them to please stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and gatherings. It’s everyone’s responsibility to do their part to stop the spread of Covid-19. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I truly believe that we will come out on top of this pandemic.

How has your training and education from John Jay helped you handle this crisis?
My education at John Jay led me to approach real-world problems pragmatically. I had the privilege of being involved in multiple organizations at John Jay. I was part of Community Outreach and Service Learning, the Peer Ambassador Leadership Program, the Center for Student Involvement and Learning, the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies, and the Urban Male Initiative Mentoring Program. Despite them all being different in their own respective ways, the culmination of all my experiences taught me compassion, commitment, and courage.

“Despite all of the precautions I take, I still worry about getting my family sick because of the work I do.” —Landy Familia

How has this global health crisis impacted you on a personal level?
Despite all of the precautions I take, I still worry about getting my family sick because of the work I do. Every time I go out to work, my family worries about me, but they understand my commitment to the job and public service. There is definitely a sense of paranoia though. I have been able to cope in a few different ways: by staying up-to-date with Covid-19 information, because a lack of understanding is compensated with fear; continuing to work and bringing some level of understanding and hope to others; and simply spending time with my family through prayer, food, and a good conversation.

“My grandfather died from complications caused by Covid-19 back in March. It was difficult because there was a lack of closure due to the fact that we couldn’t be with him during his final moments.” —Landy Familia

Is there any moment that hit you particularly hard? Why did that moment strike such a powerful chord with you?
My grandfather died from complications caused by Covid-19 back in March. It was difficult because there was a lack of closure due to the fact that we couldn’t be with him during his final moments. It was painful to imagine how he—or anyone for that matter—was feeling because for most people hospitals are scary and intimidating. It’s moments like that when you truly appreciate someone else’s presence.

“Recently, my sister surprised me with a drawing of an ambulance from my job, which was pretty heartwarming.” —Landy Familia

Have there been any acts of kindness, moments of levity, encouragement or hope that you’d like to share? Why did this moment uplift you so much?
Absolutely. People have approached me offering their thanks and appreciation. Some people wave and clap as we drive by in the ambulance. Others have donated equipment like gloves and masks, while others have donated food and snacks. Recently, my sister surprised me with a drawing of an ambulance from my job, which was pretty heartwarming. All of these moments are encouraging because I am reminded of the unwavering support from my family and the public. The work we do as first responders does not go unnoticed.