New York, New York:
The Department marked the 25th anniversary of the line of duty death of EMT Tracy Allen Lee in Manhattan in September 1997. EMT Lee was the first Emergency Medical Technician in the city – and in the country – to contract the HIV virus while treating a patient. Her death led to a state law that required EMTs and Paramedics to automatically receive a line-of-duty injury designation for HIV.
“Tracy Allen Lee was a brave and tenacious EMT who was dedicated to serving our city. She fought to save her patients on every call, and she fought for the benefits she deserved. Because of her, all EMTs and Paramedics are better protected today,” said Acting Commissioner Kavanagh. “That courage and the results of her fight are her enduring legacy.”
In 1989, Lee was working as an EMT and responded to a patient in cardiac arrest in Manhattan who was severely bleeding. While attempting to move the patient to continue life-saving care, her gloved hand was caught by a nail, tearing her glove and cutting her thumb. She continued working on the patient, whose blood mixed with hers. After the incident ended, she documented what occurred, fearing the patient had the HIV virus. Five years later, Allen Lee learned she was HIV positive, and spent the three years before her death fighting for her benefits for an illness obtained while in the line of duty. A year after her death, a New York State law granted line-of-duty benefits to any EMT and Paramedics who contracts HIV while on the job.