They are the men and women who respond to 911 calls and help save lives, but now they need help to save their jobs because of budget cuts.
“Hate to be so blunt, but people will die,” said EMS Local 2507 head Oren Barzilay.
The potential cuts proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio are an attempt to balance a budget ravaged by the response to the coronavirus.
“We’re going to see a decline in ambulances on the street. The ripple effect is going to be enormous,” said Barzilay.
The union represents 4,000 members — EMTs, paramedics and fire inspectors. But if the mayor’s plan goes through, 400 jobs would be cut.
In June, the mayor stated the proposed plan could cost more than 20,000 municipal workers their jobs, unless they get some type of bailout from either the state or federal government. Barzilay says de Blasio should look close at what should be cut.
“You don’t have to look far – just look at your wife. She’s got 14 people working for her earning $2 million, that’s about 50-60 EMTs right there that could be saved by laying off people who do scheduling,” said Barzilay.
The mayor’s office said in a statement, “To be clear, City Hall does not want these layoffs to happen, but this is the hole we are in without a stimulus or borrowing authority. Our EMTs and firefighters save lives every day and we are working with their unions to find personnel savings to avoid layoffs, but unfortunately all agencies will face layoffs.”
Barzilay says he is unsure how much de Blasio’s office is working with the unions.
“I talk with my colleague union presidents and they don’t know what he’s talking about. Who’s he talking to? The phone is right here. He has my phone number. Tell me what can we do to help, he never called,” said Barzilay.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said no layoff notices have been sent out yet and this situation is fluid not final.