Lawmakers express horror at planned EMS layoffs

On Thursday, it was revealed that roughly 400 of New York City’s 3,700 emergency medical services workers may soon be let go.
On Thursday, it was revealed that roughly 400 of New York City’s 3,700 emergency medical services workers may soon be let go.
Robert Szymanski/Shutterstock
On Thursday, it was revealed that roughly 400 of New York City’s 3,700 emergency medical services workers may soon be let go.

Lawmakers express horror at planned EMS layoffs

Without more funding, the city says it will be forced to fire 400 first responders.
August 20, 2020

On Thursday, it was revealed that roughly 400 of New York City’s 3,700 emergency medical services workers may soon be let go, sparking outrage among the city’s elected officials.

"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," Oren Barzilay, president of the FDNY EMS Local 257 union, said in a statement that disclosed the pending cuts.

Barzilay has also said that these cuts will increase response times and will likely result in the deaths of New Yorkers. The decision to cut the city’s EMS workers has struck many as particularly cruel, considering their work on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The layoffs are a part of broad sweeping cuts expected across the city. Just last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that 22,000 city workers may be laid off without the state or federal aid required to fix the budget deficit created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, reports say that another group of first responders – the NYPD – won’t necessarily be asked to lay off officers, despite widespread calls to reduce the size of the force.

"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," Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for the mayor, said in a statement. "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."

While no one has been terminated yet, cuts are expected to begin toward the end of September if the city has not received any additional funds. 

Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
is City & State's web reporter and social media editor.
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