Virginia paramedic who nearly died battling COVID-19 back on the job

A Northern Virginia first responder who nearly died battling COVID-19 is now back on the job.

“I feel excellent,” Sam Neglia said Tuesday.

The Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad paramedic contracted the virus while responding to a 911 call in April. He ended up in Inova Loudoun Hospital for close to a month, getting intubated and nearly passing away in the ICU.

READ MORE: Virginia paramedic heads home after battle with COVID-19

“Minutes before I get intubated, one of the technicians in the ICU that’s an EMT here, and I actually trained, put up a sign that said we’re here for you,” Neglia recalled.

All along, Neglia promised that no matter what, he’d be back.

“The first thing I said is I want to get back on a medic unit, and to this day my goal is sill to accomplish that,” he told Fox 5 in late May, a couple of weeks after being released from the hospital.

And now, he’s accomplished his goal. To Neglia, it was a foregone conclusion, almost like it was no big deal. “It’s what I do, nothing more than that,” he said Tuesday. “It’s a sense of obligation, a sense of responsibility.”

READ MORE: Loudoun County first responder thankful to be alive after battling COVID-19

But as he found out in a big surprise Tuesday – when leadership from all over the area suddenly showed up after his FOX 5 interview – to Neglia’s peers, his comeback story is so much more.

“I’m very proud to present you with the regional award for outstanding pre-hospital provider for 2020,” said the executive director of the Northern Virginia EMS Council as he presented Neglia with the award.

“Sir thank you very much,” Neglia said to applause before adding, “you remember what I was saying? The real heroes, the guys that came back the next day, that came back 10 days later, that’s these folks. That’s what counts.”

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