A day in the life of an NYC real estate executive who volunteers as a paramedic and spends his nights working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic

Bryan Lapidus is a volunteer paramedic for New York’s Central Park Medical Unit. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus
  • Real estate executive Bryan Lapidus spends several nights a week driving an ambulance across New York City and caring for patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Lapidus started volunteering as an EMT 10 years ago and joined the Central Park Medical Unit three years ago.
  • Lapidus told Business Insider that in April when daily new cases in New York sometimes exceeded 7,000 he typically worked six-night shifts each week as a volunteer paramedic.
  • Here’s how he balances his day job and his volunteer work, and what it’s like to work an EMT shift in New York City amid the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Bryan Lapidus went into real estate because he likes to interact with people and touch and feel the projects he is working on. By night, Lapidus is a volunteer emergency medical technician.

Lapidus starting volunteering as an EMT, or paramedic, 10 years ago, and he started volunteering in Central Park three years ago. Lapidus told Business Insider that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the call volume is drastically higher than he’s ever experienced.

“It seems like once you clear a call, there’s another one waiting for you,” Lapidus said.

Lapidus said that in May, he decreased his number of shifts each week to four and then two, as the number of new daily cases in New York has decreased to less than 1,000 on most days.

Lapidus, who lives in Manhattan, hasn’t seen his family in Long Island since early March. Here’s what an average day during the pandemic is like for Lapidus.

Bryan Lapidus says he dreamed of being a paramedic since he was in grade school. He became one about 10 years ago.

Bryan Lapidus’s fifth-grade yearbook. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus grew up in New Jersey, where you have to be at least 16 to be an EMT. So at 16, Lapidus started his career as an EMT.

Lapidus began EMT school shortly after his 16th birthday and was certified and volunteering before he turned 17.

During the day, Lapidus is a real estate executive. He has been working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first thing Lapidus sees when he wakes up. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

His alarm goes off at 8 a.m. each morning, and he hits the snooze button. If he doesn’t have any meetings until later in the day, he’ll go back to sleep until 9 a.m.

After he gets out of bed, Lapidus hits the shower.

Lapidus starts his morning with a shower. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

“That’s like how I wake up,” Lapidus told Business Insider. “It’s how I function.”

Lapidus typically skips breakfast and heads straight to work at his kitchen table, which is his work desk, complete with two monitors, a lamp, and a plug-and-play phone. He eats his meals on his living room table.

Lapidus’s home office. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus typically starts his workday at around 8:30, but it depends on the day. Sometimes he doesn’t have calls until after 9 a.m., and sometimes he has them as early as 8 a.m.

Lapidus spends his workday planning for construction on a 1.2-million-square-foot warehouse in Manhattan. This includes communicating with consultants and lots of paperwork.

Lapidus’s desk. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus is on the development team at L&L Holding Company, a real estate investment company. He told Business Insider he’s working on a project called the Terminal Warehouse in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood. The project is essentially to reposition a 1.2 million square foot warehouse.

“Right now, we’re finishing the design and permitting of the project and getting ready for construction,” Lapidus said, describing the undertaking.

His work consists of coordinating with designers, architects, engineers, and other consultants, and paperwork. This involves a lot of back-to-back calls and video conferences.

Every day, Bryan takes a break for lunch — unless he has a lunch meeting.

Lapidus’s living room, where he spends his lunch breaks. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

At 12:30 pm, Lapidus typically spends 15-20 minutes catching up on news, as long as he doesn’t have a lunch meeting.

He also takes 5-10 minute breaks during the day to do basic chores like laundry and dishes.

Other than that, Lapidus works non-stop until about 4 p.m.

The end of Lapidus’s workday depends on when his EMT shift begins. Usually, it starts at 5 p.m., so he stops working at 4 p.m. to prepare.

Lapidus’s bag of essentials for his paramedic shift. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Ending his workday at 4 p.m. gives Lapidus just enough time to shower, pack his bag of essentials, and pick up the ambulance.

Lapidus brings his laptop to his ambulance shift, just in case he has time to catch up on emails.

Before he goes to work as a paramedic, Lapidus takes another shower. He might also listen to classic rock to mentally prepare for his shift.

Lapidus’s second shower of the day. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus said that listening to music and taking a shower lets him “shut off” for a few minutes.

After his second shower of the day, Lapidus gets dressed. He decides what to wear under his uniform based on the weather.

Lapidus’s uniform. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

On cooler nights, Lapidus said he wears Under Armour underneath his uniform. On warmer nights, he said he wears a short-sleeved button-down shirt.

Then it’s time to go. Lapidus drives to the ambulance in Central Park, which is about 20 minutes away from his apartment in Manhattan.

Lapidus takes his car to work each night. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus keeps a car in the city, so he doesn’t have to take public transportation to work each night.

Lapidus gets to the ambulance at 5 p.m., and the first thing he does is check to make sure that it is supplied with all the necessary medical equipment and that the vehicle itself is working properly.

The inside of the ambulance. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus and his partner check to make sure it is fully stocked with medical equipment before every shift. That way they’re prepared and ready for whatever challenges the shift might bring.

Some of the things Lapidus checks are the trauma bag …

A trauma bag. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

A trauma bag has equipment used for traumatic injuries and bleeding control as well as various medications used by EMTs in the field.

… the Automatic External Defibrillator, which is used during cardiac arrest, …

An AED. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

… and the oxygen bag, which is full of equipment used to assist patients who can’t breathe. This could include coronavirus patients.

An oxygen bag with equipment used for providing a patient with oxygen. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

This equipment assists patients with difficulty breathing or restricted blood flow.

Before the pandemic, Lapidus’s shifts looked very different — he typically stayed near Central Park and took emergency calls regarding issues like allergic reactions, injuries, and asthma.

Lapidus is a volunteer paramedic. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Before the pandemic, Lapidus spent much of his shifts patrolling the park. He had time to take coffee, lunch, and restroom breaks.

Now, Lapidus’s calls are spread out all over the city, and he’s lucky to get a chance to go to the bathroom in a hospital.

A hospital in Harlem, New York. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Since the pandemic, Lapidus isn’t just in the park anymore. He’s in apartments, hospitals, homeless shelters, and police precincts all over New York City.

It’s fewer bike accidents and a lot more respiratory issues.

When Lapidus and his partner get a call, they are given a cross-street location of the issue at hand.

Lapidus typically drives the ambulance. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

In the heat of the pandemic, it was not uncommon for Lapidus to be sent 50 blocks away.

“Hospitals that I never really frequented became hospitals I went to every shift,” Lapidus told Business Insider.

The ambulance in Times Square. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus said that in April, he had shifts of back to back calls.

The New York Times reported the highest number of new confirmed cases on April 15 – over 8,000.

“Each call is slightly different, and they were just back to back. That seemed to never end,” Lapidus told Business Insider. During an eight-hour shift, Lapidus said he was getting around eight calls, if not more.

When there is a suspected COVID-19 call, Lapidus has to gear up in goggles, a gown, gloves, and an N-95 mask.

Lapidus typically drives the ambulance. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

A lot of times, Lapidus said he doesn’t really know what he’s walking into.

Many of these calls come from apartments, so Lapidus has to make sure he has the right gear to transport patients up and downstairs to stabilise a patient upstairs.

Lapidus in his gear for a suspected COVID-19 call. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus says every emergency starts with assessing the scene and talking to the patient to get an understanding of their condition.

Lapidus asks patients questions like, “How do you feel? What’s going on? How long has this been going on? Does it get better or worse?”

Many of these calls come from apartments, so Lapidus has to make sure he has the right gear to transport patients up and down the stairs and to stabilise a patient upstairs.

After assessing the patient, Lapidus checks how much oxygen is in their blood with this pulse ox. This is a quick way to find out if a patient might have the coronavirus, he said.

A pulse ox. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

A pulse ox is a little device that clamps onto your finger to detect your heart rate and how much oxygen is in your blood.

Lapidus said that if a person is conscious and has low oxygen, it’s likely a sign of the coronavirus because otherwise, people with low oxygen are normally unconscious or not able to speak or breathe.

“You’re listening to the symptoms and you’re basically coming to the conclusion on your own,” Lapidus told Business Insider of potential coronavirus patients. “Whether or not it’s confirmed, when somebody says they have been coughing for a week with a high-grade fever and their saturation is low, we more or less think in our heads, it’s another positive case.”

Lapidus’s shift ends when he and his partner agree it’s over. When it’s busy close to end-time, Lapidus and his partner have to decide if they want to continue to take calls that would keep them out longer.

Lapidus drops off the ambulance in Central Park after his shifts. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Technically, Lapidus’s ambulance shifts are eight hours long, but if he gets a call 15 minutes before the end-time, he knows it’s going to be longer.

Some nights, Lapidus worked until about 3 a.m. He said that since he’s a volunteer, his shift is less strict than other paramedics.

Lapidus told Business Insider that if he stays out late on a busy night in the city, it helps two groups of people – the patients needing ambulances, and other paramedics.

“Every call we can take off their shoulders and assist with them is just one less piece of stress they have to deal with,” he said.

After he drops off the ambulance in Central Park, Lapidus heads home for the night.

Lapidus driving home. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus has a 20-minute drive home after dropping off the ambulance in Central Park.

Once Lapidus gets home, he takes two steps inside of his apartment and strips, just in case he was exposed, to prevent the coronavirus from getting into his home.

Lapidus does laundry at the end of each shift. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

Lapidus said whether he had one call or 10 calls, he always takes off all his clothes as soon as he gets home.

Then Lapidus begins washing his clothes and takes his final shower of the day.

Lapidus showers three times a day. Courtesy of Bryan Lapidus

After a long day, Lapidus takes a shower, lays his laundry out to dry, and goes to bed.

Then, it’s time to wake up at 8 a.m. again the next morning.