The FDNY has honored the first EMT in New York City to contract the HIV virus while on duty two decades after the city turned its back on her.
WPIX reports on the tragic case of Tracy Allen Lee, who was only 18 months into her career as an FDNY medic in 1989 when she was infected. Lee was responding to a patient who had the disease and accidentally suffered a cut to her thumb while administering care, coming into contact with the subject's blood. She tested positive for HIV five years later.
Lee succumbed to the disease in 1997 at age 34 and spent her final years in a legal battle with the city as she tried to get her infection categorized as a line-of-duty injury. The designation would have provided additional benefits, including workers' compensation for at least two years of work.
One day after the 20th anniversary of her death, the department honored Lee Monday with a memorial stone marker outside FDNY EMT Station 10 in East Harlem.
"Twenty years is not a long time and I don't care if its 100 years, we will not forget," Chief of Department James E. Leonard said at the ceremony.
Lee's widower Victor Lee was on hand for the emotional dedication along with friends and former colleagues.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro read from a letter Lee wrote to her brothers and sisters that had been left in her locker.
"You make a difference every day, saving lives is so important," she wrote. "I want each of you to be safe and be careful."