TAMPA — The two young paramedics called out to a man covered in bees Friday morning, asking him to come closer to their ambulance and hoping all the bees wouldn't.
"They were swarming," said Sophia Cardenas, a firefighter with Tampa Fire Rescue. "He had a look of desperation on his face."
The 47-year-old man had been cutting grass at 1224 E Park Circle just before 11 a.m. when the bees attacked and stung him more than 100 times, according to Fire Rescue. Authorities did not release his name.
Cardenas, 22, said the man was shirtless and wearing jeans, so the bees blanketed his chest, arms, neck, face and even wriggled their way into his chin-length hair.
She and her fellow paramedic, Justin Thompson, were the first to arrive to the call of a bee attack, and threw on their fire coats and hoods before they approached. Thompson told the man to walk away from the bees and get on the other side of the ambulance.
"It took about three minutes to beat the bees off him with the towels," Cardenas said.
An engine arrived shortly after and crews rushed the man to St. Joseph's Hospital, where workers counted more than 100 bee stings on his body.
It was an interesting ride, since neither paramedic was particularly fond of bees.
"I was stung twice — in the face," Cardenas said.
Thompson, 27, said some of the bees hiding in the man's hair came out en route to the hospital, so they were killing bees along the way.
"We put him in a D-Con shower and then the hospital began his treatment," Thompson said.
The man didn't appear to have an allergy and was in stable condition, Cardenas said.
Both Fire Rescue members said this was their first experience with bees on this scale.
"It looked like he was covered in whiteheads," Cardenas said.
Hours later back at 1224 E Park Circle, the front yard stood unmowed, covered in brown leaves as a man sprayed insecticide into bushes and trees lining the front of the single story house that sits more than 100 feet off the street.
A piece of the roof had been ripped off the front of the home to reveal what was once the nest of the dangerous swarm.
"I don't like (bees)," Cardenas said. "When you have a patient that needs help, that's not an issue."