NYC is adding insult to injury by slashing the jobs of EMT’s and Paramedics who worked through the stress, exhaustion, illness, of COVID-19, and some died as a result.
New York City’s News 9 & 10 reported today that NYC is considering cutting hundreds of EMT’s and Paramedics1. The NYC outbreak of coronavirus has infected a quarter of a million and killed 23,708 people2. To put it into comparison, on a list of state cases and deaths, the City of New York has had more cases than 45 states. Stories across the media have reported the exhaustion, stress, mental toll, and illness and deaths of EMT’s and Paramedics during the pandemic3. The work done by these heroes, and their contribution to the response, are immense. In all reality, America, and the world, face the idea of more waves.
After risking their lives and their families and managing the lasting effects of mental and physical stress, hundreds maybe without jobs soon as NYC considers cutting them from the workforce. Affronts by the city against EMT’s and Paramedics are not new. In 2018 a movement of politicians and EMS providers called for Mayor de Blasio to stop opposing paid sick leave for responders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks4. Also, in 2018, de Blasio’s administration defended a pay disparity between FDNY EMS personnel and the city’s firefighters and police officers. Mayor de Blasio defended the lower pay of EMS providers stating that the “work is different.”
This year has been no better. While EMT’s work hard to support the city, they make less than half that of the FDNY firefighter1. EMT’s in New York make a little as $16 an hour6, a dollar above NYC minimum wage8, in a city whose average studio apartment costs $2,595 a month to rent9. A 5-year EMT in FDNY EMS tops out at $48,000 a year, and a 5-year firefighter tops out at $86,000 a year6. The New York Post reported on Mayor de Blasio’s refusal to support an increase in EMT pay6 a few days after NYC had more emergency medical calls daily since the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks7. Mayor de Blasio had this to say in response to the request for EMT pay increases6
We want to take care of these workers and support them, of course have their backs, but this is a bigger issue in the labor dynamics of this city.
Endnote: Aside from the Mayor’s lack of support for some of his City’s finest people, I will write about the larger issue facing the national Emergency Medical Services workforce. We may be facing a national disaster as EMS agencies are forced to close.
- Bigger G. NYC Considers Job Cuts to Paramedics, EMTs. 9 and 10 News. https://www.9and10news.com/2020/09/02/nyc-considers-job-cuts-to-paramedics-emts/ Published September 2, 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/?fbclid=IwAR0aEgDL_HEHLINMcOhLf4oW3Z8-3zz_Xn4W-9Eihk1Fp1LA-eAGgTrj6HQ#cases. Published September 2, 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Saslow E. Voices from the Pandemic: Heroes, right? Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/21/paramedic-new-york-city-coronavirus/?arc404=true. Published June 21, 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Jorgensen J. EMS workers, elected officials call for de Blasio to stop opposing paid sick leave for 9/11 responders. Daily News. https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-ems-workers-911-responders-unlimited-sick-time-20180917-story.html Published September 17, 2018. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- NYC mayor on FDNY EMS pay gap: ‘The work is different’. EMS1.com. https://www.ems1.com/fdny-ems/articles/nyc-mayor-on-fdny-ems-pay-gap-the-work-is-different-BVzzs9cvl8BARCEC/. Published January 29, 2019. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Marsh J. Bill de Blasio pushes back on increasing EMT pay amid coronavirus. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2020/04/03/de-blasio-pushes-back-on-increasing-emt-pay-amid-coronavirus/. Published April 3, 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- McCarthy C. Coronavirus in NY: Emergency medical calls hit highest level since 9/11. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2020/03/27/coronavirus-in-ny-emergency-medical-calls-hit-highest-level-since-9-11/. Published March 27, 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Rental Stats and Trends New York City, NY. RentHop.com https://www.renthop.com/average-rent-in/new-york-city-ny. Published September 2, 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
- Ravenscraft E. What a ‘living wage’ actually means. New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/05/smarter-living/what-a-living-wage-actually-means.html#:~:text=The%20%2415%2Dper%2Dhour%20minimum,for%20a%20single%2Dincome%20household. Published June 5, 2019. Accessed September 2, 2020.