By RALPH R. ORTEGA DAILYMAIL.COM.UK
A 23-year-old New York City EMT died by suicide less than three months on the job after the rookie was thrust into work during the coronavirus outbreak. John Mondello was found dead from a gunshot wound discharged from a weapon registered to his retired NYPD father, in Queens on Friday. Mondello was found after a passerby spotted the body just after 6.45pm on rocks along a river wall on Shore Boulevard in Astoria.
His death comes after Mondello had mentioned he was struggling with coping with patients who were dying from the deadly flu-like virus, also known as COVID-19, sources who confirmed his death told the New York Post. The young EMT was on the Tactical Response Group running non-stop to areas with the busiest emergency call volume in the city. In the city, positive cases of coronavirus have hit more than 160,000 and more than 16,000 people have died - including probable cases. So far, there have been 978,104 cases in the US of the coronavirus, which has been blamed for 55,059 deaths.
Mondello graduated from the FDNY's EMS Academy in early February, the Post reports. He then went to work with the Tactical Response Group next to EMS Station 18 in Claremont. The station is one of the busiest by 911 call volume throughout the five boroughs. Emergency services personnel are taking the impacts of the virus hard, says Anthony Almojera, vice president of the EMS officers' union. 'This is indicative of what we're all going through,' he said. ' Hopefully people will reach out when they need help and don't resort to this type of action. There are places to go if people need help.'
A fellow EMT who spoke with Mondello told him 'everything was going to get better.' Both spoke about how 'everyone feels stressed out and overwhelmed' especially after graduating from the academy and 'jumping into the pandemic, the high call volume.' The colleague said they two discussed the 'chaos' and seeing 'people passing away right in front of you.' 'We don't have the same union benefits as other city workers. It's really stressful to work long hours and not get paid as much,' the colleague added. Another colleague said Mondello complained of anxiety seeing so much death. 'He'd feel it was a heavy experience when he'd fail to save a life,' Al Javier told the Post. Anthony Almojera, vice president of the EMS officers' union, said the devastation wrought by the virus is taking a toll on many of his crew members.
'This is indicative of what we're all going through,' he said. ' Hopefully people will reach out when they need help and don't resort to this type of action. There are places to go if people need help.' Mental health counseling is available to all FDNY service members, and has been promoted during the pandemic. 'The loss of this young EMT who chose to bravely serve others is a tragedy for our entire department. We all mourn his loss and our prayers are with his family,' FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro told the Post. Mondello's family was devastated by his passing. 'He's a wonderful boy and they're a wonderful family,' a relative told the Post Saturday. 'We are totally devastated. Beautiful personality. Big heart.' Mondellow, a Queens native, attended LaGuardia Community College and St. John's University. He had a deli job delivering food before becoming an EMT. 'He was always smiling, always joking around. He never seemed upset,' his store manager Peter Lee said.
The city offers a suicide-prevention hotline number. For more information, call 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355).