Both skilled and compassionate, Todd Beaudet is the kind of ambulance EMT his boss wishes “he had 100 of.”
But on April 3, after repeated daily confrontations with COVID-19, Beaudet was the patient in the ambulance, rushed to Tufts Medical Center in Boston for coronavirus treatment.
Tuesday afternoon, some 43 days later, Beaudet was back in an ambulance again, this time for happier reasons and hopefully the last leg of his personal journey with the novel coronavirus.
“Today is a very special day, a great day, for all of us,” said Rob White, director of operations for Atlantic and Cataldo ambulance services.
Beaudet, 42, a father of two, was transferred Tuesday from Tufts Medical Center in Boston to Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Haverhill.
On Saturday, after 43 days in the Tufts intensive care unit, Beaudet was taken off the ventilator - a major recovery milestone for COVID-19 patients.
He’s now tested negative for COVID-19 four times but still needs respiratory therapy, explained White.
“Where he had been on a ventilator for so long he needs to go there and get his strength back,” he said.
Beaudet had a massive show of support from first responders and fellow ambulance workers when he left Tufts on Tuesday. Police, firefighters and fellow ambulance workers lined highway overpasses. At Whittier, a large American flag flew from the top of a ladder on a fire truck.
Ambulance workers, firefighters and police, friends and loved ones lined the lawn outside the hospital, clapping and cheering for Beaudet.
The back doors of the ambulance opened and his colleagues hoisted him out on a stretcher.
In a tear jerking move, Beaudet looked up at the crowd gathered and gave them a wave and a thumbs up.
Beaudet’s trip Tuesday coincided with National EMS Week, an annual event that celebrates EMT practitioners and the important work they do.
Beaudet has been a North of Boston EMT for more than two decades. White said his co-workers jousted over who was going to pick him up in Boston Tuesday and drive him to Whittier.
“We did have a fight,” White said.
The trio selected to transport him were Chris Barnes, his longtime friend and co-worker, Stacy Palumbo, who was partners with Beaudet, and Lynn Gravel, who drove him to Tufts on April 3, White said.
White, who oversees roughly 200 ambulance workers, said several workers have tested positive for COVID-19 but recovered.
“Todd had a pretty bad battle,” he noted.
Due to COVID-19 and the contagion level, no one was able to visit Beaudet while he was in Tufts.
“He’s been alone for 43 days other than doctors and nurses,” White said.
He and Beaudet’s co-workers tried to provide as much support to his family as they could, even bringing them meals.
On Tuesday, the ambulance company also transported Beaudet’s family to Tufts and Whittier in a company van.
“I’ve been in contact with his father every single day ... I just want him to get his strength back so he can see his family,” White said.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.