The EMT who was stabbed by a patient in the back of an ambulance on the Upper West Side last week was released from hospital Wednesday to a flood of emotion from fellow paramedics.
Julia Fatum, 25, was stabbed by an unhinged man while she was treating the patient in an ambulance at around 8 p.m. on July 19, according to police sources. The suspect pulled out a knife and allegedly stabbed her multiple times in the leg, arm and chest just outside of Mount Sinai West, a hospital located on 10th Avenue. The stabbing left the first responder hospitalized where she required surgery.
Rudy Garcia, 48, has been arrested for the attack and has been charged with attempted murder, assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.
Family and co-workers gathered outside of Mount Sinai West Wednesday to cheer on Fatum as she was discharged following a week of care. Holding signs reading, “We’re here for you Julia,” EMTs lined the main entrance and waited for Fatum to emerge, in their eyes, a hero. The group erupted with applause as Fatum was wheeled out of the facility, with the 25-year-old greeting her well-wishers to a smile and warm wave.
For fellow paramedics like Greg Palacios, Fatum’s disturbing encounter is a cautionary tale and a wake-up call that there is a need for EMTs to be provided with greater protection.
“The dilemma is that we are responding to these assignments. And when the patient is in the back of the ambulance, we are confined in the back of the ambulance. We don’t have the proper resources—we are on our own,” Palacios said.
Palacios has been in the field for three decades and said that attacks like these are becoming frightfully common.
“I’ve been chased by an axe. I have been assaulted. It’s a trend that we’ve never seen before in my 30 years,” Palacios added.
The makeshift celebration for Fatum was an overwhelming one for her parents, Cara and Charles Fatum. According to the pair, the injured EMT hails from the Catskills and traveled to the Big Apple to treat New Yorkers. Still, despite the horror she encountered, her mother said that she believes her daughter would do it all again if it could help her peers and bring greater awareness to EMT safety.
“If this makes a difference in the safety of her fellow EMTs, I know that she would do it all over,” Cara Fatum said, weeping. “I still feel like I’m kind of in a dream. I’m overwhelmed like I can’t believe there’s so many people here that can see the value in her, and I hope that this makes a difference.”