For over two decades, Nickolas Ramirez dedicated his life to serving others.
“I’ve never seen him get angry, I’ve never seen him with an attitude,” said Mitch Mendler, friend and colleague. “He was a great guy, excellent firefighter, the kind of guy you could trust to get the job done.”
Mendler had been friends with him since the 80s when they met and worked in an ambulance together. They remained good friends over the years as they both ended up working as firefighters for the city of San Diego. Mendler retired last year, only to return as a paramedic a few months later. Ramirez was heading the same way, but COVID-19 got in the way.
“His last shift was supposed to be a few days after he checked into the hospital and never got home,” Mendler said.
Mendler says Ramirez was hospitalized in late January after being unable to breathe.
“It was a shock,” Mendler said. “It’s just hard to believe.”
He was diagnosed with COVID-19 and his condition deteriorated rapidly.
“It just really hurts,” Mendler said. “His wife called my son’s mother-in-law and said, ‘he’s not coming home,’ it was five days before he died.”
Ramirez died on February 16. Mendler says he was fully vaccinated.
“Nick was a really strong guy,” Mendler said. “He was really in shape physically, mentally. I was sure he would survive.”
It is unclear where Ramirez could have gotten the virus, but Mendler says it is a reminder of the dangers that first aiders face every day.
“I can say that not everyone understands what we do and how we do our jobs, but I want to tell you firefighters, police officers, paramedics and EMTs, we sacrifice and put ourselves in situations that most people never do. would accept under any circumstances “said Mendler. “And we do it daily.”