30% of FDNY EMS providers, 18% of firefighters out on medical leave

EMS is using mandatory overtime to fill gaps and added over 100 EMTs from the department's EMS Academy


Kristin F. Dalton
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases citywide is making a big impact on the city's workforce, though agency heads say they're adjusting for the losses in staffing and services are not being impacted.

In addition to employees who are out because of a COVID-19 infection, the city's workforce has also taken a hit since the vaccine mandate went into effect, requiring all workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

FDNY paramedic Elizabeth Bonilla prepared her ambulance for a double shift at EMS Station 3 on April 15, 2020, in the Bronx. During the height of the pandemic in March and April 2020, about 25% of the department was on medical leave for EMS.
FDNY paramedic Elizabeth Bonilla prepared her ambulance for a double shift at EMS Station 3 on April 15, 2020, in the Bronx. During the height of the pandemic in March and April 2020, about 25% of the department was on medical leave for EMS. (Photo/John Minchillo/Associated Press)

According to the latest data from the city Department of Health, the city's seven-day positivity rate is 33.49% and the daily average for the last 28 days is 20.82% — two statistics that have been increasing.

Citywide the daily average of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the last seven days is 26,817 cases.

As of Jan. 3, 30% of EMS providers and 18% of firefighters are out on medical leave, which includes members out sick with COVID-19, those who have COVID-19 symptoms but have not yet confirmed an infection, and those who are sick with other illnesses, the FDNY said.

During the height of the pandemic in March and April 2020, approximately 25% of the department was on medical leave for EMS.

Like other agencies, EMS is using mandatory overtime to help fill gaps and more than 100 emergency medical technicians were put into the field last week from the EMS Academy to help with staffing.

At this time, all firehouses citywide and EMS stations are open and responding to all calls for help, the department said, adding they've seen an increase in daily call volume but are not seeing the record number of calls seen at the height of the pandemic.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the reduced workforce has "stressed" the department's ranks.

Sgt. Edward Riley, a city Police Department spokesperson, told the Advance/SILive.com the NYPD's sick rate has steadily declined since Dec. 31, as members recover and return to duty.

Riley said updated figures would be available later this week.

Last week, more than 20% of the city Police Department was out sick due to COVID-19 and had received 7,270 sick calls, the most for any day in 2021 and similar to the amounts seen at the beginning of the pandemic, sources told the Post.

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(c)2022 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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