WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES MAY 7, 2020 13
BY WALTER S. ADLER
Over 14,000 New Yorkers have died so far during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of
bravery, heroism and inter-agency cooperation has ensued for the worst four weeks
of the pandemic. The virus is here and will be for some time. My EMS brothers and
sisters will continue to help hold the front lines.
But when the coughing stops and the fevers cool, will the inequities be addressed? EMS
workers need profession-wide protections. We need to be compensated in parity with
policemen and with fi refi ghters. We need leadership to bring the disparate sectors of the
fi eld together in common purpose to advocate for political action to resuscitate this fi eld.
For decades we have been there at critical moments of loss and terror, laying down our
lives for our patients and their families.
NYC EMS workers have been both separate and unequal to all other city service workers
for years in terms of wages, benefi ts and working conditions. Another challenge is the
awkward segregation of the workforce into distinctive sectors with competing leadership.
NYC’s 13,000 EMS workers are divided into four distinct deployment
models with diff erent funding channels, varying benefi ts, uniform
colors, vehicle colors, conditions and levels of prestige — FDNY 911
Municipal, Voluntary Hospital 911, Private Interfacility Transport
and Community Volunteers.
Compared to fi refi ghters and policemen, EMS is highly revenue
generating. While “saving lives,” EMS is also a multimillion-dollar
industry. Every billable ambulance ride brings the city, private
ambulance companies or hospitals between $500 to $4,000.
While providing signifi cant revenue, the disparity in starting
EMS salaries as compared with Fire Suppression and the NYPD is
signifi cantly lower. The starting NYPD salary is $42,500, and within
5 ½ years raises to $85,292 with the possibility for additional income
from overtime. FDNY fi refi ghters begin at $43,904 and, aft er 5 ½
years with fringe pay, make $110,293.
Entry pay for an FDNY EMT is $35,000 and, aft er fi ve years, is
capped at $50,000 or around $16.50/hour. New hire transport EMTs
begin at the minimum wage — $15.00 per hour only recently up from
$10.20 per hour — and go up around $1 a year. Voluntary Hospital
(non-public hospitals) EMTs start at $20 per hour and go up $1 a year.
When 14-year FDNY EMT Veteran Yadira Arroyo was murdered
by a crazed attacker — run over by her own ambulance — she was
raising fi ve children on $48,142.
Entry-level FDNY Paramedics make $48,287 and aft er fi ve years
the base cap is $65,226. An entry Voluntary Hospital Paramedic
makes between $23 to $38/hr job, with less security and benefi ts,
except in more exclusive, higher-income neighborhood hospital
garages like those serviced by New York Presbyterian, Northwell
or Mt. Sinai. An entry-level private transport paramedic makes $23
to $25 per hour with no job security or benefi ts at all.
EMS workers are the frontline troops in medical and public
health emergencies that are dangerous, uncontrolled and always
unpredictable — where reinforcements do not always arrive or are
not available, where ambulances fl ip, patients assault and a virus
FDNY EMS manages around 66 percent of the daily 911 call volume.
Voluntary Hospital EMS manages over 33 percent of NYC citywide
total call volume. This averages about 4,000 calls a day, 1.5 million a
year. The combined response of Private Companies and Community
Volunteers accounts for a comparable number of non-emergent,
Interfacility or emergency handled outside the 911 dispatch.
We do a lot for this city. We take great risks and we do save and
prolong lives. We need proper masks. We need proper wages. We
need proper unity.
With one united voice, one Political Action Committee of many
small EMS unions, one lobby we must fi nally demand a parity whose
time has come.
Paramedic Walter S. Adler is a 16-year veteran of the Emergency
Medical Services and a native New Yorker. He served the FDNY EMS for
four years and has served overseas in Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq
and Syria. He is currently a 911 Paramedic with Montefi ore EMS and
BronxCare EMS in the Bronx.
ATTENTION HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS!
As the coronavirus epidemic rages on across New York City,
we want to hear from the health care workers on the front
lives battling to save lives.
Our reporters want to speak with health care workers about
what they’ve witnessed in emergency rooms, medical centers,
nursing homes and other facilities where lives hang in the balance
every day. We want to tell their stories to show New York City
their courage but also the severity of the conditions they work
in — and the situation they face.
We welcome submissions at any time from active New York City
physicians, nurses, lab technicians and other health care workers
who are helping to treat patients.
Email your information to Editor-in-Chief Zach Gewelb, and a
reporter may contact you soon.
Your information will be held confidentially; your name will
be used only with your express permission, or withheld upon
By submitting, you understand that the content must not be false,
defamatory, misleading or hateful, or infringe any copyright or any
other third party rights or otherwise be unlawful.
If we publish your content, we may include your name and
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New York City’s EMS workers
need more than nightly applause