WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES APRIL 2, 2020 3
Holden, Local 2507 president call for
more N95 masks for EMS workers
BY BILL PARRY
In response to reports of FDNY EMS workers
responding to more than 7,000 calls every day
during the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilman Robert
Holden and Local 2507 president Oren Barzilay
are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to allocate 100,000
N95 masks to EMS workers per week.
In a letter to the mayor, Holden pointed out that
a shortage of N95 masks led the city to issue new
guidance to EMS workers on when they should and
should not use the masks.
According to the union, its members were even
threatened with the loss of a vacation day if they did
not follow this new guidance.
“It is absolutely disgraceful to threaten our EMS
workers with docked vacation days, especially at a
time when they are working overtime to cover for
sick colleagues,” Holden said. “These brave city employees
are oft en the fi rst people to come in contact
with a patient with coronavirus, and their professional
judgement on when to wear a mask should
be trusted. This city should be doing everything
possible to fi nd more N95 masks for EMS professionals,
not limiting how much they use the masks.
It’s no wonder why these selfl ess workers feel so
underpaid and underappreciated by City Hall.”
In the letter to the mayor, Holden and Barzilay
note that out of 4,000 members of the union, 50
have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least
another 400 are experiencing symptoms. Barzilay
added that the FDNY EMS and Fire Inspectors’ lives
are not expendable.
“It’s shameful that we had to come to this point,”
Barzilay said. “The city needs to provide these men
and women the right equipment so they can continue
doing their job, not just today, but every day.”
A spokeswoman for the mayor said the administration
is aware of the equipment shortage and it is
looking for solutions.
“Our EMS workers are heroes, and we are equipping
them with the best we can in the face of a national
mask shortage,” Laura Feyer said. “We need
the federal government to step up and respond to
our request to immediately produce millions more
masks, so we can ensure our healthcare workers
have enough to last this entire crisis.”
Meanwhile, the city and FEMA announced a
partnership that will bring 250 more ambulances
and nearly 500 more EMTs and paramedics to
New York City. These resources will help the city
increase capacity for medical transports between
medical sites and assist the FDNY with responding
to a record number of calls.
“Our EMTs and paramedics are doing unbelievable
work under the toughest of circumstances,” de
Blasio said. “This week, I promised them help was on
the way and today it is. Our partnership with FEMA
will give our fi rst responders the help they need to
continue being the heroes of our city.”
These ambulances come fully staff ed by paramedics
and EMTs from around the country.
“Our EMTs and paramedics are facing an unprecedented
number of medical calls each day. There has
never been a busier time in the history of EMS in
New York City,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro
said. “We are very grateful for this assistance from
FEMA that will make an immediate impact to the 911
system and greatly assist our men and women on the
front lines of this pandemic.”
Councilman Robert Holden demanded more
N95 masks for FDNY EMS personnel who are
answering twice as many emergency calls as
normal. Photo via Wikimedia
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