BY REBECCA GREENBERG I New York City | September 19, 2022
The NYPD and FDNY are taking longer to respond to crimes and medical emergencies, according to the city.
This news does not come as a shock to first responders who are battling staffing shortages, shuttering hospitals and an influx of 911 calls.
“We are hurting out here and that’s why everybody leaves,” said union president Oren Barzilay, who represents more than 4,000 FDNY first responders and paramedics.
Barzilay says it should come as no surprise that it’s taking longer for members of Local 2507 to get to fires and medical emergencies.
“It’s an ongoing reshuffling of units every day, all day, and who suffers the most? The person who’s calling 911 for help,” Barzilay said.
According to Mayor Eric Adams’ most recent management report, it took ambulances and firefighters 46 seconds longer on average to respond to “life-threatening medical emergencies” this fiscal year compared to last. The average response time was nine minutes and 30 seconds in the 2022 fiscal year. The average response time was eight minutes and 28 seconds in 2019.
The 2022 fiscal year spanned from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
“Clinical death begins after four minutes. Biological death begins after six minutes. So if we’re getting there in nine minutes, your chance of surviving a heart attack or going into cardiac arrest are slim to none,” Barzilay said.
The city is also seeing an uptick in 911 calls. The FDNY responded to more than 564,000 medical emergencies in the 2022 fiscal year, compared to 515,000 the previous year.
“We have been telling them this for a long time — that the call volume has steadily increased and it’s not going down,” Barzilay said.
Although the city is hiring hundreds of new EMTs every year, Barzilay says the problem is retention. He says first responders don’t get paid enough to regularly risk their lives.
“We are risking our lives for $18 an hour. EMTs are earning $18 dollars an hour. They know it’s an honorable profession. They know it’s a great career. But after two or three years, they realize they’re risking their lives for this amount of money. It’s just not worth it,” Barzilay said.
In a statement, a City Hall spokesperson said increased traffic congestion is largely to blame for the increase in response times and the city “will take all necessary steps to promote quicker response times across all uniformed agencies.”