By Carl Campanile, Julia Marsh and Craig McCarthy
August 19, 2020 | 6:18pm | Updated
“People will die” if City Hall follows through with a plan to lay off nearly 400 EMTs and paramedics, the head of the union representing those workers told The Post.
Oren Barzilay, head of EMS Local 2507, said FDNY brass told him that 10 percent of the city’s 3,700 EMTs and paramedics will be cut under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to slash 22,000 municipal workers. “The response times will go through the roof. That would put people at risk. People will die,” Barzilay warned.
De Blasio has said the reductions will come in October if the city doesn’t get state or federal aid to fill a major budget deficit caused by the coronavirus. Earlier this month he ordered agencies to come up with lists of cuts, according to Politico. The number of EMTs and paramedics has already dropped from 4,100 before the pandemic. Four of his members died from the virus and three others committed suicide, Barzilay said. They were on the frontline of the crisis, rushing patients to hospitals around the five boroughs.
During the pandemic, his members responded to 7,000 emergency 911 calls, nearly double the normal amount. “We were the only ones going into homes to save lives. That’s what we did. This is the thanks the men and women from EMS are now getting,” Barzilay fumed. “COVID is not over. What happens if there is a surge?” he asked.
Reps for FDNY and City Hall did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Another union source said the cuts are nearly inconceivable. “I don’t know where they would trim EMS, we are understaffed,” said Anthony Almojera, vice president of EMS Local 3621. “The city has asked for a list of where they can cut by the end of August. This is expected to be acted upon by the end of September. There’s been some tough conversations about EMS workers and uniformed firefighters … demotions,” an FDNY source said.
A high-ranking FDNY insider confirmed “hundreds of EMTs” will be laid off as part of cuts. City Hall Bill Neidhardt said no pink slips have been sent and the cuts are not final.
“To be clear: City Hall does not want these layoffs to happen, but this is the hole we are in without a stimulus or borrowing authority. “Our EMTs and firefighters save lives every day and we are working with their unions to find personnel savings to avoid layoffs, but unfortunately all agencies will face layoffs. Without a stimulus or borrowing authority, EMTs and firefighters will have to find personnel savings,” the spokesman said.