NYC EMS Union Warns City of Dangers for Medics on Rikers Island

Thomas Tracy

New York Daily News


The head of one of the city unions that represents EMS crews sent a letter to the FDNY raising concern about members’ safety when operating on Rikers Island.

Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay wrote that his members are being left without Correction Department escorts to protect them when they enter the jails.

“This is unacceptable,” Barzilay wrote Thursday to the FDNY’s Office of Labor Relations. “The officer that lets the crew in should be married to them until the completion of the call. If an officer is not available, crews should not be going in.”

Barzilay pointed to one incident in which a detainee poured urine on an EMS crew on June 26, preventing them from reaching a patient. One crew member ended up with the urine on his arm and side of his head. The other was doused in the mouth and one eye.

When they reported it to a Correction Department captain, the captain got annoyed and demanded their names and shield numbers. An argument ensued delaying their departure by 15 minutes. One medic was evaluated at a local hospital and released.

On Saturday, the FDNY reissued the guidelines for responses to Rikers Island, which include a requirement that EMS crews confirm a Correction Department staff escort is available throughout the period they are in the jail. EMS crews should not enter areas where inmates are not secure without an escort.

The safety situation in city jails was the subject of a three-hour court hearing Friday in which the federal monitor overseeing the system advised the city to hire an outside consultant to fix the overall security situation.