Oren Barzilay, head of EMS Local 2507, said Wednesday that New York City is reportedly considering laying off nearly 400 first responders.
Barzilay told the New York Post that he was informed that 10% of New York’s EMTs and paramedics would lose their jobs under Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to layoff 22,000 workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The response times will go through the roof. That would put people at risk. People will die,” Barzilay said.
Prior to the pandemic, there were 4,100 EMTs and paramedics, but that number has decreased in recent months, according to the Post.
During the height of the pandemic, the city’s response time to medical emergencies surged, nearly doubling in many cases, the Post reported.
“We were the only ones going into homes to save lives. That’s what we did. This is the thanks the men and women from EMS are now getting,” Barzilay said.
“COVID is not over. What happens if there is a surge?” he asked.
De Blasio announced in June that the city was facing a $9 billion projected loss of revenue due to the lack of tourism and commerce, according to ABC7.
In order to meet the city’s $87 billion budget, de Blasio said the city needs to make additional cuts, which will result in some 22,000 city employees losing their jobs.
“The reality is we are running out of money and there’s no way in hell we’re going to get a lot of new revenue immediately,” he said.
The paramedics’ union said its employees should be spared from the layoffs, according to ABC7.
“Yesterday, we were praised as heroes, essential workers saving lives. Today, the city government treats us like zeros,” Barzilay said. “New Yorkers who lived through this deadly pandemic know otherwise.”
“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,” Barzilay said in a statement, according to ABC7.
A spokesman for de Blasio released a statement about the potential layoffs, per ABC7.
“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. Without a stimulus or borrowing authority, EMTs and firefighters will have to find personnel savings.”