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NYC mayor signs EMS body armor, self-defense training bill into law

Mayor Eric Adams signed legislation requiring protection and training for FDNY EMS personnel

By Paul Liotta
Staten Island Advance

NEW YORK — New York City will now provide FDNY emergency medical services (EMS) personnel with body armor and self-defense training every three years after Mayor Eric Adams signed two pieces of legislation Wednesday.

Both sponsored by City Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore), the pieces of legislation require the FDNY to provide body armor, along with self-defense and de-escalation training every three years to all members working in the EMS bureau.

“Every day, the brave men and women of the FDNY emergency medical services put themselves in harm’s way to save New Yorkers’ lives. They are often the first to arrive on the scene, and the most vulnerable,” Borelli, who is the Republican leader in the Council, said. “The least we can do is help protect them so they, too, can get home safe to their families.”

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

During a February hearing on the legislation, Oren Barzilay, president of EMS Local 2507 and a 29-year veteran of FDNY EMS, said that assaults on EMTs were at an “all-time high” with personnel threatened or attacked 386 times in 2021 and 363 times in 2022.

The longstanding issue of violence against FDNY EMTs came to a head in September 2022 when Alison Russo-Elling, a 25-year veteran of the FDNY, was stabbed to death in Queens.

Peter Zisopoulos, the 36-year-old accused murderer, currently has his trial ongoing and he is being held on Rikers Island, according to court and Department of Correction records. He has pleaded not guilty and faces up to life in prison.

Adams said Wednesday that the new laws served as a way to provide a bit more support for a notoriously underfunded part of city government.

“Often time, they respond before other first responders are there. They are the selfless heroes who show up when we need them the most, and simply put, they are New York City’s best,” he said at City Hall. “Our EMS employees always have the backs of New Yorkers and we want to make sure we have them covered as well.”

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