By Kristie Keleshian and The Associated Press
NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) — New York City ambulance workers are being told to keep their guard up after crews were robbed twice this past week while responding to what turned out to be phony emergency calls.
In the latest incident, police say a man pulled a gun on two fire department emergency medical technicians around 2:30 a.m. Saturday and demanded they hand over their radios and medical bag.
The confrontation happened in an elevator at the Cooper Park Houses, a public housing complex in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as the EMTs were responding to a 911 call that purported a person was having a seizure.
Local 2507 union President Oren Barzilay, who represents the city’s EMTs, said incidents like these will continue to make the FDNY a revolving door of an employer.
“It’s going to come to a point where nobody’s going to want to work here anymore,” Barzilay said.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said he was disgusted by the recent robberies.
“It’s just mindboggling that someone can do this to those, really, angels of EMS that are there just to help others,” he said.
Nigro said he understands why EMTs could feel apprehensive after the robberies.
“Every time the elevator door opens now as they rush to what they think is a patient in need and wondering if when the doors open there’s somebody standing there with a gun,” Nigro said.
Barzilay said NYPD officers would’ve been with the EMTs already if police funding wasn’t cut.
“You know they used to go on more calls with us,” Barzilay said. “They used to go on more incidents with us. But when you take away police presence in a city such as ours—hence, why you see all the crimes.”
Barzilay said more funding should go to protective gear for EMTs.
“We are here to help the victims, and now we are becoming victims,” he said.