40 FDNY ambulances out of service due to staffing shortage

A high number of city EMTs and paramedics called in sick Saturday suffering side effects from their first COVID-19 vaccine shot


Janon Fisher, Nicholas Williams and Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — More than three dozen FDNY ambulances were not answering calls across the city Saturday, but you can’t blame Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccination mandate — just the vaccine, The New York Daily News has learned.

A high number of city emergency medical technicians and paramedics called in sick Saturday suffering side effects from their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, leaving the city down 40 ambulances, FDNY officials said. A majority of the ambulances out of service were in the Bronx, sources said.

As of 8 p.m. Friday 84% of EMS members were vaccinated, a massive jump from the 61% vaccinated on Tuesday, City Hall officials said.
As of 8 p.m. Friday 84% of EMS members were vaccinated, a massive jump from the 61% vaccinated on Tuesday, City Hall officials said. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Union members, which have rallied against Mayor de Blasio’s vaccination mandate all week, initially reported that 150 ambulances were stuck in park Saturday, but that turned out to be “an exaggeration,” one EMS official said.

Unvaccinated FDNY employees won’t be sent home without pay until Monday, giving them two more days to get the jab. As of 8 p.m. Friday 84% of EMS members were vaccinated, a massive jump from the 61% vaccinated on Tuesday, City Hall officials said.

Fire and EMS unions have fought the mandate since its inception, claiming the weekly COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated employees were keeping everyone safe. The mayor should have hammered out a vaccination compromise with union leaders instead of threatening to take away workers’ pay, they said.

City firefighters were lagging in de Blasio’s race for the shot, with only 72% of them vaccinated as of Friday night.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro denied a claim from Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican, that 26 FDNY companies were closed Saturday because vaccine-protesting firefighters are calling in sick.

“The department has not closed any firehouses,” Nigro said in a statement.

Several fire houses Malliotakis and union officials claimed were closed in Brooklyn were open when Daily News reporters visited. Among them were Engine 231/Ladder 120 in Brownsville, Engine 323 in Flatlands and Engine 234 in Crown Heights.

When The News contacted two other firehouses Malliotakis and union officials said were closed, they were open and operating, although short-staffed.

“They’re out of service because they didn’t have enough men to staff it,” said a firefighter who answered the phone at Ladder 128 in Long Island City. “They sent the rest to battalion.”

Battalion 45, the place the firefighters from Ladder 128 were sent to, is in the same building, FDNY officials said.

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©2021 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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