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Everyday Heroes: She takes song requests — from the back of the ambulance

The Forward asked readers to tell us about the “everyday heroes” in their lives, people extraordinary things in this extraordinary time. If you know someone acting heroically right now, let us know — we’ll be adding to the collection in the coming days.

Name: Goldy Landau

What she’s doing: In late March, Goldy Landau drove a recovering coronavirus patient home from a New York City hospital. Since he’d been unable to charge his phone or contact his family for days, his arrival was a welcome surprise. “I’ve never seen a family so thrilled and ecstatic,” Landau wrote on Facebook.

Moments like this are bright spots in Landau’s increasingly grueling workdays. An EMT since 2013 (she’s also written for the Forward), she’s no stranger to difficult assignments, but the coronavirus pandemic poses entirely new challenges, from the cumbersome protective gear in which she greets patients to the sheer physical exertion of lifting sick bodies in and out of the ambulance each shift. Landau’s pants are stained with bleach from sterilizing her vehicle between each call, and even her most basic routines have been interrupted: while first responders normally grab corner store sandwiches during lulls in their shifts, since most New York eateries have closed, she’s reliant on donated food and free coffee provided to healthcare workers by Starbucks. “We live on coffee,” she said.

What she’s saying: Between shifts, Landau posts regular updates about her work on Facebook. She captures the fears of families who must send a loved one to the hospital alone, dispenses advice on what to pack if a trip to the hospital is unavoidable (cozy socks are a must), and cracks jokes about her “Patients” playlist, a collection of songs that stable patients request her to play during transports.

While Landau’s work may seem incomprehensibly difficult to many, she said she’s most frightened of the prospect of self-quarantining at home. “That to me seems way more stressful,” she said, speaking by phone from the back of her ambulance. “Having to be home alone for months? I’d rather lift 100 patients a day.”

Inspired? Read about more everyday heroes here.

Irene Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

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