FDNY Paramedic Megan Pfeiffer is assigned to Jamaica Station 50.
"We're pretty much bringing patients to the hospital to die." That's how city paramedic Megan Pfeiffer summed up the increasingly grim local coronavirus situation to The Post, while described her grueling work as a first-line emergency worker treating patients in Queens while responding to 911 calls. "It's been crazy the past few days," Pfeiffer, 31, told The Post on Monday night. "We know what we signed up for – though we didn't expect this. It's very straining. We're all exhausted." Pfeiffer, an FDNY paramedic since 2013, is assigned to Jamaica Station 50 — and says COVID-19 now makes up the largest number of 911 calls she handles. "There are a lot of really sick people. Others are panicked, and as soon as they have symptoms, they call us. Some have fever, some have shortness of breath," Pfeiffer said.
"The hospitals in Queens I go to are totally full," she said.
Pfeiffer recalled recently bringing a patient in cardiac arrest to New York Presbyterian Queens hospital in Flushing and the person was immediately admitted and put on the last ventilator available in the intensive-care unit. While older people infected with COVID-19 tend to be seriously ill, she said, she was struck by how many younger adults she treats who end up in the hospital ward. "It's like battlefield triage right now. There are 20- to 40-year-olds being sent to the ICU," she said. Her colleagues have described similar horror stories. Pfeiffer said she and other paramedics have been exposed to so many COVID-19 patients that they're self-quarantining to avoid infecting family and friends. She said she often sleeps at her work station in Jamaica.
"A lot of people are not going home," she said. She and other paramedics and emergency technicians work the ambulance crews that are employed by the city Fire Department's Emergency Services Division. FDNY stats show how the coronavirus has ravaged its ambulatory workforce. About one in four Emergency Services workers – or 23 percent – is currently on medical leave for COVID-19 illnesses and other injuries. That's 2,800 ambulance workers. A total of 282 FDNY members – EMS firefighters and civilians – have tested positive for the coronavirus. Oren Barzilay, head of paramedics union Local 2507 who represents EMS workers, said the coronavirus outbreak has taken a toll on his members.
More than 75,000 New Yorkers statewide have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 1,500 have died — with New York City being the epicenter.