'Hundreds' of FDNY EMS workers could face layoffs, source tells ABC News

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As New York City continues to recover from the full impact COVID-19 had on the city, the de Blasio administration is considering laying off "hundreds" of FDNY Emergency Medical Services workers, a source familiar with the possibility told ABC News.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned 22,000 city workers could be laid off because of a projected $9 billion shortfall.

The paramedics' union said its members should be spared the pink slips.

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"Yesterday, we were praised as heroes, essential workers saving lives. Today, the city government treats us like zeros," said Oren Barzilay, president of FDMY EMS Local 2507. "New Yorkers who lived through this deadly pandemic know otherwise."

Nine EMS workers died of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Barzilay said as many as 400 of his members are facing potential layoffs and he warned of delayed responses to emergencies.

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"Even with the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 looming and two recent outbreaks in Brooklyn, Bill de Blasio and his team at City Hall wants to balance the city's budget on our backs, eliminating some 400 emergency medical responder positions and placing every New Yorker's life at risk," Barzilay said in a statement.

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Barzilay said a patient having a heart attack or stroke or the bleeding victim of a gunshot wound or stabbing cannot afford an extra five to seven minutes of delay "that will likely occur if the mayor's master layoff plan is carried out. If these budget cuts are enacted, people will die needlessly."

A spokesman for de Blasio released the following statement:

"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."

Back in April, at the height of the pandemic in NYC, new guidance was released for EMS in New York City and Long Island that showed the grim reality the pandemic had taken on the city.

The guidance said patients in cardiac arrest should not be transported to the hospital if they cannot be saved in the field. It was issued in response to hospitals that were overrun with COVID-19 infections and to help emergency rooms minimize the number of difficult arrivals.

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