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Legislators pass bills requiring self-defense training, body armor for FDNY EMS personnel

Bills highlight the violent line-of-duty death of FDNY EMS Capt. Alison Russo-Elling


FDNY EMTs load a female victim into an ambulance after a double-shooting at 301 W. 150th St. in Manhattan on January 16, 2021.

Barry Williams/TNS

By Chris Sommerfeldt
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — EMTs working for the FDNY must receive body armor and regular self-defense training courses thanks to a pair of bills passed by the City Council on Thursday.

The legislation, which now heads to Mayor Adams’ desk for his signature, comes amid an uptick in attacks on EMTs in the city in recent years. In 2022, there were 363 attacks on emergency medical service workers, a fourfold surge compared to 2018, according to the most recent FDNY data.

Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli, who penned the two bills, highlighted the 2022 killing of FDNY EMT Capt. Alison Russo-Elling.resistant standards.

[Rapid response: Risk of senseless violence is constantly looming]

A second bill, which also passed unanimously, would require that FDNY EMTs receive self-defense and de-escalation training at least every three years.

The training will be geared toward teaching EMTs how to defend themselves against certain violent situations they are more likely to encounter on the job, like incidents involving individuals with mental illness. The training will also include a focus on teaching EMTs how to recognize and understand mental illness, according to the bill.

“We owe it to them to take every possible measure to safeguard their lives while they protect ours,” said Councilman Kevin Riley, a Bronx Democrat who co-sponsored the bills.

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