Statement from Oren Barzilay, President, Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors Union, FDNY

We thank you for giving us the opportunity to be heard today, and we thank the brave and highly dedicated members of the FDNY EMS for standing strong beside their union, as we take a stand against Mayor DeBlasio’s unfair vaccine mandate.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and to this day, our members have always been there to answer the calls for help from our fellow New Yorkers, and we did so, often with little to no personal protective gear to protect us against the deadly effects of this insidious virus. 

Our members were asked by the City and by this Mayor’s administration to re-use contaminated medical equipment and were shockingly, often disciplined when replacing that gear, which is a common and sanitary medical practice. 

Mayor DeBlasio seems to have forgotten the sacrifices thousands of members of the EMS Division of the FDNY made during that pandemic, not seeing our family members for weeks on end, addressing long term health risks and even death. As New York City’s medical first responders, we had a choice then, and our members chose to come to work despite the hazards.

Where is our choice now?

Where is the choice for those who had COVID and have natural immunity?

Where is the choice for those members of EMS who have medical conditions, and who fear this will affect their long-term health? Exemptions should be allowed, and a one week warning does not give us enough time to get all of our documents in order.

For a mayor who claims to be pro-choice, where is the choice for those in the EMS service, who hold religious beliefs sacred? Where is their freedom of choice?

Often on the news or in publications we see and hear about only the benefits of receiving the vaccine. Where is the discussion and transparency related to the findings and information, related to any possible dangers or side effects of taking the vaccine?

Where are the reports about the deaths of people that have been fully vaccinated? The CDC has those numbers on their website. Mr. Mayor, we urge you to read all the data regarding the vaccine and do what is right for our members and give them a choice!

Laying people off in an essential emergency service, will lead to growing response times and ultimately the lives of people throughout this city. The EMS Division is already understaffed due to horrifically low pay and the resulting sky-high attrition rate of 70% who quit the EMS service after less than five years. Mayor DeBlasio don’t continue to put the citizens of this great city at risk by laying essential medical first responders off and causing a citywide ambulance shortage.

We urge the citizens of this city to make their voice heard and stand up for the medical first responders who protect their lives every single day -, the EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors of the NYC Fire Department