Nikima Glatt began to cry as she embraced Lt. Thomas Dorn, a Syracuse Fire Department paramedic who saved her life after she had a severe allergic reaction to a wasp sting.
Glatt and her son visited Syracuse Fire Station 3 on Friday to thank Dorn and Timon Woods, another firefighter, for saving her life.
“I really thought I was going to die, and I could only think about my son,” said Glatt, 38, while she choked back tears. “I am all he has.”
On the morning of Aug. 15, Glatt was picking grapes in her backyard on Syracuse’s West Side when a wasp stung her arm. At first, she thought it was simply a painful inconvenience.
“It felt like I got hit by a hammer,” Glatt said, “but I just thought it was just a bee sting and it would go away in a few days.”
- Burns and Bites and Stings, Oh My!
- Assessing, Treating and Preventing Snake Envenomation
- Treat Anaphylactic Incidents Before it’s Too Late
- Convenience Store Crisis
Slowly Glatt realized the sting was affecting her more than she thought it would. She was sitting with the father of her son’s friend having coffee when she started to feel sick.
“It felt like I was covered in mud,” she said.
Glatt went to shower and noticed she had hives all over her body. As an ER nurse, she began to realize that she may be having an allergic reaction and should seek care.
As she pulled out of her driveway to go to an urgent care facility just before 11:30 a.m., she said felt her throat closing. She stumbled out of her car and attempted to call 911 before collapsing in the driveway.
The father of her son’s friend saw her fall and took the phone to speak to the 911 dispatcher.
While she was in the driveway struggling to breath, Glatt, a single mom, said she could only focus on what might happen to her son and who might be able to take care of him if she died. She knew her son could possibly be placed in the foster care system.
“You saved two lives that day,” Glatt told the firefighters.
Within 5 minutes of the 911 call, the firefighters, Dorn and Woods, arrived on the scene to administer an EpiPen, a medical device that injects a dose of epinephrine.
Glatt said that when she saw the firefighters it was as if time slowed down.
“You were just so calm, I just knew I was going to be okay,” she told Dorn and Woods.
Although they saved her life, Glatt still had serious complications at Upstate Community Hospital. She had to be given an IV of epinephrine to stabilize her.
She was discharged from the hospital but still felt pain in her chest. Once she was home, she collapsed again and had to be taken back to the hospital. She was told that she also had a pulmonary embolism. As a result, she had to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks.
“I feel like I lost a month of my life,” she said.
Glatt, an avid runner and hiker, said now just walking a bit further every day feels like a win to her.
She told Syracuse Deputy Fire Chief John Kane, who helped organize her visit with Dorn and Woods, that they would all have to run a race together when she healthier.
Glatt told the firefighters that every night at dinner she and her son list three things they are thankful for, and they mention Dorn and Woods every time.
“I have two birthdays now,” she told the firefighters, “and you are all family now.”
Glatt told the firefighters she hopes they can celebrate the anniversary of her emergency with a barbecue.
She told them that she called almost every fire station in Syracuse to find the people who treated her so that she could thank them in person.
Kane said that a patient coming back to thank firefighters usually only happens once in a career for most firefighters.
This was the first time someone has come to thank Dorn, who has been with the fire department for 25 years, and Woods, who started with the department in January.
Glatt, who had brought cupcakes and cookies decorated with bees when she visited the station at 808 Bellevue Ave., said she was shocked that more people are not eager to show their gratitude.
Since the incident, Glatt carries her EpiPen everywhere. She also discovered her son, who just started as a freshman at Westhill High School, has the same allergy and got him several EpiPens as well.
Glatt had been stung several times before and had even been attacked by hornets while hiking. She never had an allergic reaction before which made the severity of the situation even more confusing.
Glatt said she has a new appreciation for her life and for the work that firefighters do every day.
“I have a lot of people to thank,” she said. “I am grateful to be alive”
Staff writer Anne Hayes covers breaking news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, a story idea, a question or a comment? You can reach her at email@example.com.