East Tenn. paramedic pleads for people to wear masks after surviving COVID-19

An East Tennessee paramedic is now recovering at home after being diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this summer.
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - An East Tennessee paramedic is now recovering at home after being diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this summer. His wish is others will hear his plea to wear a mask, hoping that it could save more lives.

“It felt like somebody put a plastic bag over my head,” Todd Giles said. “I became short of breath, and couldn’t breathe.”

Doctors at an area hospital diagnosed him with COVID-19. He started treatment and told WVLT News he was issued plasma from a coronavirus survivor.

“Knowing as a paramedic that you’re at the brink of death, and then you wake up able to talk, and to know that happened because of where I was at and the care I received,” Giles said.

He worked with the hospital, creating a video to share his COVID-19 experience, hoping others see how he suffered and recovered.

“The room I’d been in, I’m the first survivor to come out of that room in four months,” Giles said. “To be alive, to do that interview was really emotional for me to know that I survived.”

Now he’s asking you to make sure you are wearing a mask and washing your hands.

“It’s like wearing a seat belt, or a motorcycle helmet,” Giles said “It’s something that’s proven to be beneficial to everybody especially yourself.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called masks a “critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities.”

He admits the choice is yours, when it comes to the guidelines given by local, state and national leaders.

“If you don’t care about yourself that’s fine,” Giles said “Care about the other people your family, your parents, your grandparents, your kids, people you come in contact with are depending on you to take care of yourself.”

To him the decision is simple.

“I don’t say shut down the world,” Giles said “I say wear a mask and do what you should do. Everybody’s mom taught them to wash their hands as a kid wash your hands now that helps out a lot.”

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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