The forgotten first responders | Manhattan Times

By Gregg McQueen

Lieutenant Paramedic Anthony Almojera has lived through the nightmare.

He is still haunted by the memory of marathon shifts during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During March and April 2020, calls for 911 assistance reached record levels throughout New York City.

“There were more than 6,500 calls daily. Since so many colleagues were out sick, we were doing 16-hour shifts,” said Almojera, who began his emergency medical service (EMS) career 17 years ago in Harlem and is now based in Brooklyn. “We dealt with lots of cardiac arrests every day. I saw more people die in that two-month span than the previous 10 years of my career combined.”

During the apex of the pandemic in New York City, nearly 25 percent of the EMS workforce was out sick, Almojera said, causing many 911 callers to suffer.

“We had [people] holding for hours because we didn’t have any ambulances left,” he recalled. “You think of how many ancillary people died because they didn’t want to go to the hospital during Covid or they didn’t have an ambulance to come get them.”

Though the call volume eventually subsided, the pandemic left an indelible toll on Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics who work under the New York City Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (FDNY EMS).

Read more: The forgotten first responders | Manhattan Times

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