Healthcare professionals and first responders around the United States, and around the world for that matter, are becoming widely regarded as heroes for risking the possibility of contracting COVID-19 each day to help the climbing number of people infected. Ilya Wilson, an Army ROTC Cadet at The College at Brockport - State University of New York and an EMT on Long Island, is among those healthcare heroes.
Wilson has spent over 30 hours working as a first responder since the COVID-19 outbreak began in New York. He has been a volunteer at Exchange Ambulance of the Islips on Long Island since 2012, and just recently joined the Army ROTC Freedom Eagles Battalion, at Brockport University.
When considering the gravity of being a first responder at this moment in time, Wilson recalled a patient with nerve damage that he recently helped transport to a hospital on Long Island.
He said the patient was “crying hysterically” on account of the pain from the damaged nerves, and Wilson and the other EMTs worked not only to mitigate the physical pain, but try to ease the patient’s mind as well.
“We are trained for this and happy that we can take the knowledge we learned in class and use it in our field,” said Wilson.
Before his pursuit to be an Army officer, Wilson was a Division I NCAA athlete and a cancer survivor. He noted both as stops along his journey to joining Army ROTC. He said specifically, battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a teenager gave him “a second chance to live and do everything I love to the fullest. It also gave me a new perspective about myself and also the people [like my family, nurses, teachers and friends] that helped me through the rough time.”
Wilson took that second chance as an opportunity to think more critically about his military dreams.
“I was always interested going into the military… [After] eight years of very competitive running, I made a very hard choice of hanging up my jersey and spikes to join Brockport ROTC,” Wilson shared. “Looking back, this decision has impacted me on all levels of life as a person but also in my military career.”
In the face of a pandemic that spans the globe, and has brought indefinite uncertainty into his future, Wilson said he still wants to spread positivity and light to the people he encounters every day.
“As a cancer survivor, the one thing I was told by the nurses was to ‘keep smiling.’ This was the only way I got through all the pain from the treatments,” he said.
He is currently not a contracted Cadet, but is planning on attending Basic Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Once contracted, he hopes to obtain a degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science to pursue branching as a Military Police Officer, and to continue being a first responder.