Every time a team at Crozer EMS gets in a truck, they know it's a matter of life and death for the people they're trying to help, and they have to protect themselves, too. Their first shield is a bulletproof vest. The rest of the layers keep piling up.
"It's the unknown that's the scary part of it, but we can do our best and try and keep it at bay, said Eddie Matuliewich, a paramedic. He says for his work, the pandemic started quietly.
"It was like a tidal wave coming in because we knew something was coming. Three weeks later, the calls started picking up because they were afraid to go to the hospital," he said.
HOMETOWN HERO!!! Eddie Matuliewich is a single father of two and a paramedic at Crozer EMS in Delaware County. He’s worked hard through the pandemic to save lives while dressed head to toe in PPE to protect both himself and his family. THANK YOU, EDDIE! @6abc pic.twitter.com/jZGPODu5q8— Beccah Hendrickson (@Beccah6abc) August 26, 2020
That tidal wave came. He was treating every day COVID-19 patients as two of his co-workers, including his chief, contracted the virus. Two more paramedics in Delaware County died. Matuliewich says he never questioned if he'd keep returning to work.
"I don't think what we're doing is extraordinary, we're helping people," he said.
His uncle, who nominated him as a Hometown Hero, says he sees it as something more spectacular.
"Him always being there for family, friends, neighbors, whoever it might be, he won't ride past an accident if he knows he could help, and I think he is a hometown hero," said Charle Campbell, Matuliewich's uncle.
While the shifts are exhausting and often heartbreaking, Matuliewich and his team know the community needs them now more than ever, but he can't be too careful because there are a few people at home who need him too.
He's also a single father of two, trying to support and keep his girls healthy through the pandemic.