Media

E M S P A C

EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE PUBLIC ADVOCACY COUNCIL

“It’s more important than ever to give fair pay to EMS members, NYC lawmakers said Thursday.

The City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for those first responders to be paid comparably to firefighters and police officers.

‘Our EMS personnel have worked endless shifts even before this pandemic began,’ Council Speaker Corey Johnson said at a press conference. ‘They are not paid fairly for this work and since the pandemic began, they remained on the frontlines, meeting the medical needs of New Yorkers.’…

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“Over 14,000 New Yorkers have died so far during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of bravery, heroism and inter-agency cooperation has ensued for the worst four weeks of the pandemic. The virus is here and will be for some time. My EMS brothers and sisters will continue to help hold the front lines.

But when the coughing stops and the fevers cool, will the inequities be addressed? EMS workers need profession-wide protections….”

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“…Badgley knows the woman needs oxygen fast, but she doesn’t want to do anything that could spray the virus and infect others. She gives her nasal oxygen as she wheels her to the ambulance, and then an oxygen mask once they get inside the bus: she knew the nurses would probably intubate her at the hospital. As soon as her oxygen levels come up in the ambulance, the woman starts to improve enough to mumble her name. “Hold my hand, hold my hand, hold my hand,” Badgley says. “It’s okay.”

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“Before the virus, the city’s 911 system typically got about 4,000 EMS calls per day. On March 26, it received over 7,000, a call volume unseen since 9/11. Since early March, EMS workers have become stricken with COVID-19 putting a strain on an already strained profession, blighted by high turnover rates due to low salaries and a lack of benefits. In 2018, the FDNY promoted 900 EMS to firefighters, which many EMTs find hard to turn down due to the significantly higher salary, causing an even greater staffing shortage…”

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“The benefits are also different. Firefighters have unlimited sick pay, for example, while paramedics and E.M.T.s — who regularly come into contact with sick patients — have 12 days of paid sick leave every year.

The unions that represent E.M.T.s and paramedics have fought to close the gap, pointing to the growing workload and arguing that they face some of the same dangers as firefighters…”

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“In the United States, the system that was once among the most advanced in the world, has been largely abandoned by government leaders and funders, and has been left to languish for more than four decades. The outcome of this dangerous neglect has become obvious as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

As a result of this lack of vision, lack of investment and lack of a rational finance model, the system is only marginally integrated into disaster mitigation, planning, response and recovery…”

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“A well-functioning emergency medical service (EMS) is a matter of life or death for New Yorkers…

The City of New York spends more than $1.1 billion annually in an effort to provide its residents and visitors this vital service, but the money is not used wisely. The system suffers from serious inefficiencies, and major reforms are needed to make it work better…”

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“The last thing FDNY paramedic Christell Cadet remembers was telling doctors she could no longer breathe on her own.
That was on March 21, when the 34-year-old was placed in a medically-induced coma while fighting for her life against a crippling coronavirus infection…

‘I woke up a totally different person,’ Cadet told the Daily News, her voice still hoarse and weak. ‘I’m not the same person I was before this started. Mentally, it makes me look at things different. It makes me appreciate life in a different way’…”

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