Community reacts to biting attack on FDNY paramedic
Union leaders and local officials called for more protections and equal pay for EMS providers
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
NEW YORK — Emergency workers and local officials are responding to news of a 28-year-old paramedic from Staten Island who was allegedly bitten on the face early Friday morning by an emotionally disturbed teenager in Brooklyn.
Jenna Piscitello, of Great Kills, could have permanent scarring on her cheek from the attack, which occurred as medics were attempting to lay the female patient on a stretcher, according to a statement issued by the union representing city EMS workers.
"We're all familiar with the fictional killer Hannibal Lecter; for Ms. Piscitello, that horror became a reality," wrote Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay. "No one should come to work having to fear getting assaulted or possibly killed."
Piscitello and the teen — who was believed to be under the influence of drugs — both were treated NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn, the Daily News reported.
"The injuries sustained by our paramedic are horrific," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "No one should be attacked when they are at work, and certainly not EMTs and paramedics who respond to every incident with one mission — to save lives."
A GoFundMe account set up by two of Piscitello's colleagues to help with medical bills and other expenses had exceeded $18,000 by Sunday afternoon. The post read in part:
"To paint a quick picture of what an amazing person she is, Jenna, although bleeding and in considerable pain, continued to work on the patient who assaulted her until she was taken to the hospital."
The patient reportedly was charged in connection with the incident.
Piscitello is among more than a dozen Local 2507 EMS workers assaulted over the past week, Barzilay noted.
"When will our public officials come to our defense and offer EMS personnel protection?"
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/ Brooklyn) argued the incident is further proof that emergency medical workers deserve higher wages.
"It's beyond time that they receive equal pay on par to other first responders in this city," Savino wrote on Twitter.
Dozens of concerns New Yorkers weighed in on news of the incident, initially posted over the weekend by FDNY union leaders. Said one woman with FDNY ties: "My mother is a paramedic. This is what she risks every night just trying to help people...this is terrifying."
Piscitello, a seven-year-veteran of the FDNY, told the New York Post that despite the ordeal being a "little traumatizing," she didn't plan on changing careers.
"I have a very deep passion for what I do," she said. "This incident isn't going to ever stop from me continuing to be as compassionate as I am with people."
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