FDNY EMS Local 257 President Oren Barzilay said the city’s plan to eliminate hundreds of EMS positions will put lives at risk
August 20, 2020
By Laura French
NEW YORK — The president of the FDNY’s EMS union says the city is planning to cut 400 EMS positions, putting hundreds of frontline COVID-19 responders at risk of layoffs.
FDNY EMS Local 257 President Oren Barzilay said in a statement to NBC News, “Even with the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 looming and two recent outbreaks in Brooklyn, Bill de Blasio and his team at City Hall wants to balance the city’s budget on our backs, eliminating some 400 emergency medical responder positions and placing every New Yorker’s life at risk.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary did not deny that the city was preparing to lay off EMS providers, and said in a statement that the city is dealing with a budget hole due to a lack of stimulus funds and borrowing authority. He said the city is working with unions to avoid some layoffs where possible but that every city agency is facing layoffs.
De Blasio previously said in May that FDNY layoffs were “on the table” due to an estimated $7.4 billion in revenue losses from the pandemic.
The FDNY has seen historic medical call volumes during the pandemic, with EMS providers responding to up to 6,500 calls per day, the most since 9/11. At least 11 FDNY members, including four EMS providers, have died due to COVID-19.
“Yesterday, we were praised as heroes, essential workers saving lives. Today, the city government treats us like zeros,” Barzilay told NBC. “New Yorkers who lived through this deadly pandemic know otherwise.”