Union head: FDNY to enact ‘doomsday scenario’ to help EMS

Hundreds of medically trained firefighters will be called to assist EMS with COVID-19 calls


By Janelle Foskett

Described as a “doomsday scenario,” firefighters trained as paramedics and EMTs will assist the FDNY’s already overloaded EMS bureau to help manage COVID-19-related calls, according to the Daily News.

In a video released Tuesday, Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) President Gerard Fitzgerald (Engine 318) shared that 209 FDNY firefighters with EMT licenses have been ordered to staff rapid response vehicles to respond to the influx of pandemic and other EMS calls. An additional 63 firefighter-paramedics are being called to assist as well. These 272 represent what Fitzgerald calls the “first wave” of resources asked to assist during the pandemic, with 250 firefighters expected in the next wave.

FDNY paramedics place an empty collapsible wheeled stretcher into an ambulance after delivering a patient into the emergency room at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
FDNY paramedics place an empty collapsible wheeled stretcher into an ambulance after delivering a patient into the emergency room at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“The pandemic is the biggest medical emergency that we have ever encountered,” Fitzgerald said. “The city, the state, the country has never seen anything like this – and it keeps evolving. With all that, our members are being ordered or asked to go above and beyond.”

Fitzgerald explained that the UFA doesn’t have the ability to fight these orders due to the state of emergency, which has ultimately led to this “doomsday scenario”: “It’s a problem to a lot of guys that have the title of firefighter and will be asked to, ordered to, go back to EMS. Right now, that’s what needs to have to happen to get through this pandemic.”

The FDNY generated the availability of extra resources, Fitzgerald said, by giving a year’s extension to any firefighter whose certified first responder credentials expired in the last 12 months.

Fitzgerald said his members have faced many tough times, but he is confident the department will respond and overcome this challenge: “There is no emergency that our firefighters have not conquered, and we will conquer this one also. … We are the world’s best and bravest firefighting force ever. We have proven in the past and we will continue to prove it.”

Almost 16.5% of FDNY members were out sick on Tuesday, reported Fox News, with the number of positive diagnoses among the ranks reaching nearly 300. 

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