The New York Fire Department is struggling to make its way through the coronavirus crisis. Currently, 493 members of the NYFD have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 3,000 are out sick.
Anthony Almojera, an EMS Lieutenant-paramedic for the FDNY told CNN Tuesday that he doesn’t know how they’re managing the constant influx of calls for help from New Yorkers.
“It’s truly a testament to the EMS workers that we have here, the EMTs and medics,” he told host Jim Sciutto. “It’s pretty amazing to see how they’re going out in spite of seeing all their co-workers get sick. It’s frightening for a lot of us. We don’t want to bring it home. We don’t want to get sick with it but, you know, this is our job, we treat the sick and injured. We still have all of our regular 9-1-1 calls. It’s truly a testament to the EMTs.”
Sciutto said that it makes him think of Sept. 11, the way that firefighters and EMTs are willing to risk their own lives to help others.
One tweet the firefighter posted last week revealed the number of runs they’re doing for emergency calls.
— Anthony Almojera 🚑✈️🕉 (@AnthonyAlmojera) April 2, 2020
He explained that no one is immune to the threat of the virus and no community can escape it.
“This past Sunday I personal did 12 cardiac arrests,” he said, noting another medic told him that he did 10. “They’re all various ages and underlying medical conditions and some not. No one is immune to this. You have to stay home, if you can.”
Almojera went on to say that he doesn’t believe the deaths they are reporting aren’t coming from people they’re losing in the field, because firefighters and EMTs don’t have any way to test people in the field. He also said that they’re refusing to let the firefighters work in 12-hour shifts so that they can rest properly.
“We have no way of testing ourselves!” he said. He explained that the city can’t provide 9-1-1 staff with tests if they get sick. “Firefighters are not given tests. We know we have it, so the people who are out there, you have to stay home. The EMS systems, traditionally underfunded and understaffed cannot handle this. It’s really a true pandemic that will hurt you. I see these churches — people still gathering at a wedding — that’s going to keep us busy until the summer. This cannot happen. You have to stay at home.”
The Lieutenant said that it’s really beginning to take its toll on him and his fellow firefighters who are calling in sick. One person called in and confessed how bad she felt.
“I said, ‘Of course you feel bad, you have the virus,'” Almojera recalled. “She said, ‘No I feel bad that I’m not with you guys.'”
He also said that they are running low on personal protective equipment.
“For years we told them that this was going to happen,” he continued. “We got lucky with H1N1, SARS and those other pandemics. It just skirted the city and only affected a small few. But the staffing level has been abysmal for us for years.”
According to Almojera, 68 percent of their workforce has left in the past years throughout the country, but he said it’s acute in NYC.
“But they’re still out there and I’m still getting calls from EMTs who feel bad they can’t be out there,” he said.
Watch the video below: