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Austin nurse reflects on time in New York City during the thick of COVID-19 pandemic

"In the middle of it, you felt helpless and you thought it was never going to end," said nurse Angela Murphy.

AUSTIN, Texas — A military combat medic is back in Austin after spending nearly two months helping the fight against COVID-19 in New York City. 

U.S. Air Force Major Angela Murphy has 17 years of nursing experience under her belt and some of those years were spent in Afghanistan.  

"So, I've dealt with some mass-casualty situations in the past," explained Murphy.

But fighting an invisible war with COVID-19 in New York City is an experience she will never forget.  

"People were just coming in right and left," explained Murphy. "You couldn't even find a place to put them because there were so many people there that needed help and they were all critically ill." 

Murphy is the chest pain coordinator at St. David's South Austin Medical Center. She was among thousands of troops deployed to NYC the first week of April, when thousands of people were being hospitalized per day and dying by the hundreds.  

"In the middle of it, you felt helpless and you thought it was never going to end and you prayed every day that it would end," said Murphy.

It's a feeling she says she doesn't want to experience again. After almost two months, she returned to work in Austin, but the situation changed dramatically since she was here last.

Texas is now one of the states hardest hit by COVID-19, but like Murphy, the state's governor learned from the devastation in New York.  

"Like, they're constantly just thinking ahead," said Murphy. "I think that it has been great for Texas and the fact that we had more preparation than some of the hospitals in New York because it literally just fell apart in New York."  

Murphy said she encourages everyone to do their part so we do not experience what happened in New York.  

"I pray every day that it will never come to the point where we are having to, just find space to be a closet to shove someone or that there's a line of gurneys in the hallway full of patients," said Murphy. "Even though I wore the uniform, we are all soldiers in this fight." 

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