SoCal paramedic remembers mom who died of COVID-19

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- "She always would tell me 'be safe and safe lives.'"

That's how Justine Galvan's mom would end her phone calls with her.

Toni Galvan, 48, of San Bernardino was so proud of her college student-paramedic daughter. Justine always called her at the end of her shift.

"A force of habit to reach for my phone in my pocket and pick it up, and it just hit me, I can't call her," Justine said.

Toni was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late June. Before this, Justine says her mom was perfectly healthy. Toni checked into a motel to keep her four kids safe.

She called 911 for difficulty breathing and was transported to Arrowhead medical center.

Justine said the staff did everything possible to save her - remdesivir, convalescent plasma, and finally a ventilator.

"Her brain wasn't receiving enough oxygen because her lungs were struggling," Justine said.

Toni went into cardiac arrest on the morning of July 17. Doctors stabilized her just long enough for her daughter to say goodbye in person. A special and rare opportunity granted to Justine because she's worked at that hospital and knows how to don full PPE.

"I was rubbing her shoulder. I just looked at her and told her that all her kids love her."

Toni died about an hour later.

On her phone were thousands of pictures of her kids' proudest moments.

Justine set up a GoFundMe page to help with her younger siblings' expenses.

"We're sticking together, and we're gonna make sure we remember the good times with our mom. Even when we're not strong, we have each other to fall back on," Justine said.

As a paramedic who lost her mom to COVID-19, Justine gets angry when she sees others refuse to wear masks.

"We have to deal with some of the stubbornness and the selfishness of others."

On Justine's arm is a new tattoo in her mom's own handwriting.

"This says 'Be safe and save lives. Mama,'" Justine said pointing to the tattoo.

"She is forever in my heart and forever on my skin now."

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It's widely known that COVID-19 is contagious and can be transmitted through droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking in close proximity to others.

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