Paramedics and first responders have recently said that emergency calls are rapidly increasing in New York City.
According toBusiness Insider, which interviewed several emergency medical services workers, the ongoing pressure on emergency services is affecting first responders significantly.
EMS providers have been responding to between 6,000 and 7,000 emergency calls to 911 every day, which has been the rough number of calls per day since the middle of March. It was around this time that lockdown measures were imposed in New York City.
The normal number of calls per day is around 4,000, which has meant that EMS providers are currently responding to a 75 per cent increase in the volume of calls per day.
Vincent Variale, an EMT, said that the situation was “like a slow-moving train crash that hasn’t stopped”. Other EMS providers have emphasised that the services have been understaffed for a long time, and so this is putting more pressure on the ones who are still working.
Anthony Almojera, the vice president of the FDNY EMS Officers Union told CBS News that they were receiving more calls per day than they did on 9/11. Variale said:
This is like 9/11 every single day. I've never seen this call volume in my entire life.
Although another EMT, Faisel Abed, who worked during the 2001 attacks said it was actually worse:
This, to me, is worse
I can guarantee you if you ask 10 first responders, they would tell you that the coronavirus is worse than the 9/11 attacks because we don't have any control — it's free wild.
EMS providers are also struggling to get tested for Covid-19, even if they have symptoms, and many of them are also struggling to get their hands on personal protective equipment. They’ve expressed concern about what they might be bringing home every day.
Other reports have also found that a larger number of first responders are starting to be affected by Covid-19. There are 260 reported cases in the Fire Department of New York, and one confirmed death. 800 NYC police officers have coronavirus infections, and four members have died. At least 5,200 members are not working because they are sick currently.
Anthony Almojera, a lieutenant paramedic, said:
We're in the middle of a war. We're the tip of the spear here.
Recent figures put the total number of Covid-19 cases at 636,300, and one-third of those originate from New York state. Parademics and other responders across the US are driving to New York in order to ease some of the pressure.