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EMS Worker Passing

County and local EMS officials announced the passing of a long-time paramedic who died from COVID-19.

They say Harry Smith passed away from the virus on November 30th.

He was 49.

“Harry is the first EMS provider in Cambria County to succumb to COVID-19. There will be no viewing or services per Harry’s wishes,” said Eric Miller, Manager of Forest Hills Area Ambulance.

Miller says his colleague died in the line of duty, presuming that he contracted COVID-19 while working on the job.

“Over the last month or month and a half, Harry did transport several COVID positive patients that we know of,”

Smith did receive both vaccinations, according to his colleagues.

“Even though you get the vaccine, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to get COVID. It doesn’t stop COVID. What stops COVID is the mask, social distancing, and washing your hands,” said Terry Sloan, Manager of the Portage Area Ambulance Association.

Harry was a full-time paramedic with Forest Hills and a part time paramedic with Portage for over 5 years.

Before that, he worked as a paramedic for various ambulance services in the northern part of the county.

He leaves behind two teenage children, ages 18 and 16.

“He loved his children. He liked to hunt. He made beautiful handmade knives. He was a good man,” said Laura Penatzer, Assistant Manager of Forest Hills Area Ambulance.

They also announced that Dave Bridge of Beaverdale, a firefighter and member of their quick response team, also recently passed away from COVID-19.

Miller estimates between Forest Hills and Portage EMS about 40 percent of the patients they transport are COVID-19 positive.

“First responders, EMS, fire personnel, dispatchers, and police are facing the biggest threat and challenge of our careers with COVID-19. We are facing this daily with treating COVID-19 patients, hospital overcrowding, and the stress of family and friends succumbing to COVID-19, he continued.

A memorial fund for Smith’s children has been set up.

Donations can be made to any 1st Summit Bank or delivered to Forest Hills Area EMS.

The first responders also say ambulance services across the Commonwealth need more workers.

“The trickledown effect of this is felt all over the county, felt all over the state. Everybody is having similar problems,” said Art Martynuska, Director of Cambria County EMA and 911.

They say Smith’s patients were always in good hands.

“You knew that patient was getting treated properly, and with the best treatment that could be possible for that patient. He was a very good paramedic,”

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