Who are the heroes police officers, firefighters and ambulance workers look up to? In Cortland County, the answer is nurses.
Emergency responders joined an escort parade and saluted from overpasses as 22 nurses from Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse made their way through the County to a Long Island hospital to help with Coronavirus patients.
“We just wanted to do our part to help recognize the level of dedication of these medical professionals as they travel into the uncertainty that surrounds this public health crisis,” said city police Lt. Michael Strangeway this morning.
The nurses arrived to thunderous applause and “thank you” posters at SUNY Stony Brook Hospital around 2 p.m., according to a video posted on the Upstate University Hospital Facebook page.
Every law enforcement agency in Cortland County — Homer Police, SUNY Cortland University Police, State Police, Cortland Police and the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office— participated in the escort, as did Homer, Cortlandville and Cortland fire departments.
Local police in Onondaga County started the nurses’ escort at 8 a.m. from the Syracuse hospital. Sheriff’s deputies met the nurses and their Onondaga County police escorts at the County line in Preble and escorted them, aided by the other agencies, to the Broome County line in Marathon.
“Police officers from across New York State are providing these brave health care workers an escort all the way from Syracuse to New York City,” according to a Sheriff’s Office release. “Each agency is relaying the nurses through their jurisdiction, then passing the escort off to the next police agency, until their trip is complete.”
While at Stony Brook Hospital, the nurses will work with patients in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Room, according to Upstate University Hospital. Long Island and New York City are the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. There have been 5,150 deaths related to coronavirus in New York City so far, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and as of 7:14 p.m.
People who contract COVID-19 can experience mild symptoms, but some — especially older adults and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease— experience severe symptoms that may lead to death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, the CDC states.
Of the 1.5 million worldwide cases, more than 350,000 people have recovered and almost 95,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As the nurses headed to their Long Island mission, emergency workers not in the escort lined the Homer Exit 12 overpass to salute the parade and to waive an American flag from the top of a Cortlandville fire truck ladder.
“We appreciate not only these nurses, who volunteered to leave their families to go help people in need, but all the health professionals for their courage during these times,” the Homer Police Department wrote in a Facebook post featuring a picture of the overpass and flag. “Thank you!!!!!”