Philadelphia EMT serves community on front lines during COVID-19 pandemic

For the past nine years, Melissa Herrera’s passion has been serving as an EMT. She’s currently with Engine 68 for the Philadelphia Fire Department. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only created challenges to being able to safely do her job, but also emotional conflict for people whose first instinct has always been to help others.


“I enjoy the fact that I can help someone else. Someone else in need. They look to us and you can just make their day,” Herrera told FOX 29. “Is it harder on you personally, emotionally knowing that you have to think about it? It is because you see someone in need of help and you can’t just jump out of the truck and go in.”

For the safety of the patients as well as her own, EMTs now have to stop and put on protective gear before they can rush in to save someone. They see every day just how serious this pandemic is.

“We see the fevers, the difficulty breathing, the shortness of breathe, more respiratory cases, we’re seeing a lot more respiratory," she explained.

Part of their jobs has now become talking to the communities that they care so deeply about, trying to get them to make decisions that could stop Herrera and others from needing to come help them in the first place.

“It’s hard because you’re trying to educate them to stay in, to keep your distance, but a lot of them aren’t taking it seriously and that’s why it’s hitting the younger community," she said. 

Herrera continues to educate the people in the community at every chance that she can get.

“Stay home, honestly stay home. If you don’t have to be out, stay home," she said.

Herrera is working 14 hours daily, running into potential risk to protect us but like so many others, she doesn’t consider herself a hero. She doesn't want any credit, just saying that it’s the job she chose to do, and it’s something she enjoys doing.

A quality which makes a person a hero – for goodness sake.

We want to hear from you. Tell us about a hero you know using the hashtag #FOX29Heroes or #ForGoodnesSake.


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