NYC EMS Workers, Who are Underpaid and Understaffed, Are Leaving the Profession in Droves

NYC EMS Workers, Who are Underpaid and Understaffed, Are Leaving the Profession in Droves

By Yehudit Garmaise

“Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers are often forgotten about until they are needed, and then you are out there banging the pots and pans during the pandemic,” Lt. Anthony Elmajara, who has been working for the FDNY-EMS for the past 20 years, told participants of last Tuesday's Community Board 12’s meeting. “But right now, I am banging the pots and pans because I don’t have food I can put in there because I can’t afford it.”

To get by, many EMTs must take two or three extra jobs to continue helping others and doing what they love. The city’s emergency workforce of 4,000 is losing 10 to 15 employees a week due to low pay, inferior benefits, and lack of staff.

The FDNY-EMS workers, EMTs, and paramedics are not only paid on average $35,000 less than firefighters, cops, and sanitation workers, but the benefits the survivors of EMS workers who die in the line of duty are also not on par with the survivors of other first responders, pointed out Lt. Elmajara, whose EMS station is located at 50th and 7th Avenue.

The survivors of EMS workers, G-d forbid, die in the line of duty, they receive benefits for only three years, while survivors of firefighters and cops receive death benefits from the city for life.

Lt. Elmajara asked Boro Park community members to, “Call city councilmen, the mayor’s office and say, ‘Hey, we have to take care of EMS workers, who have taken on the extra burdens of attending to the homeless and the influx of migrants.’"

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