By Dean Balsamini
March 13, 2021
New York City medics are under siege.
Fifty-two paramedics and emergency medical technicians have been attacked so far this year — a trend which, if it continues, would result in a serious spike in assaults on such frontline workers, a union head told The Post.
The concerns come on the heels of a disturbing incident involving a crazed teenager who took a Hannibal Lecter-like bite out of a paramedic’s face last week.
If the disturbing trend continues, more than 200 EMTs and paramedics will suffer similar battle scars this year — a 43 percent surge from the 140 assaulted in 2020 — doing a job that is inherently dangerous.
“Lack of respect to men and women in uniform, no consequences to career criminals, the public is well aware of the bail reform, there’s simply no consequences to committing crimes,” said Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors union.
And the terrifying tally of “kicks, bites, spits, death threats” is probably higher.
“Many of our assaults go unreported due to our members knowing the prosecutors won’t do anything to the offenders,” Barzilay charged, citing figures from internal reports.
He said EMTs are dealing with more individuals with mental health issues due to the “COVID lockdown” and “the past year of people not being able to go about their daily routine has taken a toll on many.”
In the horrific March 5 incident, Jenna Piscitello, 28, who started as an EMT and became a paramedic in 2019, was bitten in the face in Brooklyn after she and her crew responded to a call for a patient with “altered mental status.”
Piscitello said a 17-year-old girl was trying to run out of the house, and kept falling. But, she said, the teen was not threatening until first responders tried to get her onto a stretcher.
“She just wrapped her legs around my torso, her arms around my neck and just took a nice big chomp out of my face,” Piscitello recounted. “She was like on me for almost a minute. It felt like an eternity.”
The paramedic received four stitches at the hospital and was scheduled to see a plastic surgeon. The teen was charged with assault in the second degree and assault with intent to cause physical injury, police and sources told The Post.
Two of Piscitello’s FDNY colleagues started a GoFundMe campaign to help the Staten Island resident.
The shocking story is not an outlier, sources previously told The Post.
Another EMS member had his thumb chomped on during a call in the Bronx on Feb. 27 and there were reports of a first responder also getting bitten in the borough March 4, the sources said.
Despite the attack, Piscitello remains undaunted: “This incident isn’t going to ever stop from me continuing to be as compassionate as I am with people.”