David Malkin received the touching tribute at Whitefield ambulance station in Bury where his colleagues gathered outside to greet him on his first day back at work.
"It was incredibly overwhelming,” said the 62-year-old, who spent six weeks in intensive care last year after contracting coronavirus.
"It was awesome and something I didn’t expect. Everyone has been incredibly supportive throughout the time I’ve been unwell."
Covid-19 not only threatened his life but left Dave debilitated for 12-months and left him having to learn to walk again.
He recalled: "I’d tested positive for COVID-19 the week before I went into hospital. However, five days later I saw my brother, who also works for NWAS as a paramedic. He took one look at me and phoned an ambulance.
"From that point I don’t remember much at all. I don’t think I understood how ill I was, or even that I’d been in ICU, until I was being wheeled out on a stretcher with everyone applauding me."
David spent five and a half weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Oldham Hospital in a critical condition before being discharged to continue his long-term recovery at home.
He said: "I’d lost all my strength in hospital, and even standing up and getting to the end of my bed became a big achievement.
"I’m very thankful for the support I received from the NHS during my recovery, including carers, physiotherapists and consultations with specialists.
"However, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my partner Pauline," said David.
"She has been amazing and my inspiration. She took time off work to care for me after I’d come out of hospital, slept on the sofa when I had to live downstairs in my own home and was always there behind me ready to hold me up as I practiced walking round the living room with a frame."
David still has scarring on his lungs but has returned to work light duties in the ambulance service where he has served for 17 years.
He said he looks forward to getting back on the road for the Patient Transport Service - "the best job he's ever had" - in the weeks to come.
"I’m only on light duties at the moment, which I’m happy to do, but I’m looking forward to getting fully up and running.
"I joined the ambulance service in 2004, before that I’d worked in warehouses and logistics. But this is the best job I’ve ever had, you get to meet so many interesting people, I absolutely love it.
"The last year has been horrific in more ways than one, and hopefully this will be the start of something much more positive."