TROY, N.Y. – A Troy firefighter and paramedic is speaking out after he was stabbed with a hypodermic needle by a man he was trying to help.
Authorities say Joel Burgess, 32, was found on the ground and unresponsive near the Hannaford in Lansingburgh experiencing a drug overdose, when first responders were called in.
As treatment was being administered, Burgess regained consciousness and became combative, stabbing one of those trying to help him with a hypodermic needle.
“We tried to restrain him as best as possible. We asked the police to come in the back of the ambulance. We let go of one of his hands and then I turned to see where the police were and I felt a pinch or prick in my hand,” said Troy firefighter and paramedic Robert Ziter.
“As I was leaving the ambulance, I removed my glove and I had blood all over my hand,” said Ziter, describing the moments after being stabbed. “I didn't know exactly what was going on. I knew I was stuck with something, felt like almost a bee sting at the time.”
Ziter was immediately rushed to the hospital after the incident, along with the suspect. But Burgess fled the hospital before HIV tests could be administered. After several hours he was found in Schaghticoke and various tests were conducted.
“Thankfully this guy tested negative for HIV. We're still not out of the woods yet. There's some other tests that need to be run, hepatitis, a few of them. The results should be back in a well and a half,” said Ziter.
As he waits for those tests to come back, Troy Fire Chief Tom Garrett tells the NEWS CENTER it's just another reminder of the dangers he and his fellow first responders face each and every day.
“He saved his life. This guy stopped breathing. He did everything right. You just don't know what's going to happen,” said Chief Garrett.
Burgess is now charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the seventh-degree, Criminally Possessing a Hypodermic Instrument, Assault in the second-degree, and Obstructing Emergency Medical Services.