A hero gets his shot.

By: Dave Boerger

V Teamer Abid Shaikh’s service as an EMT is rewarded with a vaccine shot.

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Abid Shaikh (pronounced  AH-bid Shake) didn’t have a strong interest in the medical field until he was taking care of his kids one day in his East Hanover, NJ, home. “My one-year-old son was playing with scissors, cut his finger, and I didn't know what to do,” recalled Abid. “I had no background in first aid. It was something I needed to fix. I reached out to my local squad, and it turned out there was a need there. So I took first-aid classes and got my state certification.”

Eight years later, Abid is the captain of his volunteer squad. He takes shifts as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) on nights and weekends when not working with the Promotion and Investment Analysis team, part of Commercial Finance within the Verizon Consumer Group.

Abid has endured a lot in his years as an EMT, but 2020 brought an added level of physical and mental strain. “This is probably the most challenging year I’ve had,” reflected Abid. “We have to slow everything down. In the old days, our average call was one hour. Now, we have to put on all our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). After every call, we have to decontaminate the rig. That takes a lot longer.”

For Abid, his life changed dramatically on March 13, 2020. “That was the day I took my first case with a COVID-19 patient on a call. You are literally inches away from someone with a positive case. You are taking risks.”

That’s why Abid was so thankful when he and the rest of his squad were given priority to receive the vaccine. “I knew that I am one of the fortunate ones who is getting the vaccine first. Oftentimes, we don’t think about our role, but I tell my other crewmates at the station that this is a sign of respect that the community is letting us go first.”

The procedure of getting the shot was both thrilling and surprisingly mundane. “I knew it was historic but it was also a very routine procedure, recalled Abid. “There were EMTs waiting before me and more EMTs after me. It was like a flu shot. The only difference was that they told me to wait fifteen minutes afterward to see if there was any sort of allergic reaction. I was in and out.”

So far, fifteen people on Abid’s squad have received their first shot, and only one had body aches afterward. Abid has since received his second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

But the choice made a year ago to continue doing EMT work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was a tough one for Abid and his family. “My six-year-old has asthma, so if I got it, he would be at risk. So my wife and I had a serious talk about whether I should continue.”

In the end, Abid’s philosophy set him on a path that is nothing short of heroic, even if he doesn’t see it that way. “My feeling was, somebody's gotta do this kind of work. If everyone said, ‘someone else will do it,’ nobody will do it. So that’s why I stepped up.”

About the author(s):

Dave Boerger is a part of the Verizon Corporate Communications team and a regular contributor to Up To Speed. He's a recovering marketer and sitcom writer.

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