By Rich Calder | New York Post | February 28, 2019
Joshua Valdes was spat on while working as an EMT — and spent the next month with his head in the toilet.
The 36-year-old Staten Island medic was hit by a spray of saliva on his eye and nose in 2016 while trying to treat an “intoxicated patient” that police were trying to subdue.
“The cops were trying to hold him down, and he was handcuffed, and the only way he could get to me was spitting. He spit right in my face!” said Valdes, who has been an EMT with the FDNY for 16 years.
“I was really angry. You don’t expect that — but then again, I guess it is expected on this job.”
Valdes said he wiped the spit off immediately — but the damage was already done.
The patient refused to be tested for diseases, so Valdes made the hard choice to accept the “cocktail” of antibiotics offered to spit-splattered medics for their own safety.
The drugs aren’t mandatory, but are “strongly encouraged,” according to Valdes.
But the only thing worse than being hit with slobber in the face was suffering through the antibiotics’ side effects, he said.
Valdes said he suffered through bad bouts of vomiting and diarrhea while taking the meds, and wound up losing weight.
“I was in the bathroom from the first day to the last day. I was on it 30 days. The medicine was horrible,” Valdes said.
“The first two weeks were the worst. I lost like six to eight pounds.”
Valdes is just one of the many FDNY EMTs who have been spat on in recent years as assaults on the medics have dramatically increased.
Currently, the only real protection available to them is surgical masks — but they leave users’ eyes and other parts of the upper face exposed to incoming spittle, Valdes said.
The medics have been asking the FDNY to give them “spit hoods” to wear since 2017.
FDNY brass said this week that they’ve finally picked a design — but wouldn’t say when they’ll actually be stocked inside the city’s ambulances.
Valdes wishes he’d had the option of wearing the hood in 2016 to avoid the suffering he endured afterwards.
“That would definitely be beneficial to us,” Valdes said.
Additional reporting by Ruth Brown