By A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P | 6.24.20
This must watch EMS TODAY Show episode zeroes in on not just the tremendous work by FDNY and other New York City 911-contracted EMS responders, but also on the horrible pay and benefit inequity between FDNY EMS personnel and their counterparts in FDNY and the NYPD.
JEMS Editor Emeritus A.J. Heightman talks with Anthony Almojera, a 13-year veteran lieutenant paramedic with FDNY EMS and the vice president of Local 3621, the FDNY EMS Officers' union representing lieutenants and captains. He's currently assigned to Station 40 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Anthony talks with A.J. about the impact COVID-19 had had on the more than 4,200 EMS workers who staff 400 FDNY ambulances daily. They discuss how FDNY EMS had more than 25% of its members out sick during the pandemic and the tragic loss of five members to COVID-19 and to suicide. They talk about the major EMS issues FDNY has in EMS retention and salary disparities. In the last four years, FDNY EMS lost 68% of its workforce primarily because FDNY EMS personnel are paid 35K less than their 911 fire and police counterparts.
The mayor of New York had been strangely mute on the disparity in pay and benefits for FDNY EMS personnel, telling the news media that the work of EMS is "different" than the cops and firefighters. A.J.'s response to Anthony is the same as his past comments to the Mayor, "Yes, Mr. Mayor, the work of EMS is different. EMS workers are 'complete responders' who are with their patients throughout the entire call, not just the first 20 minutes as most first responders are!"
Even more tragic than the pay disparity, which causes many EMS workers to work three jobs to fend for their families, is the fact that the families of the five members who died from COVID-19 – and other line-of-duty deaths – will only receive three years of their loved one's salary. That comes out to approximately $150,000 as a one lump sum under the FDNY EMS line-of-duty death benefits. FDNY and NYPD families will receive their lost loved one's full salary and complete medical coverage for life. A.J. closes the show passionately stressing that he feels the issues involving FDNY EMS represent a great American tragedy in the busiest EMS system in the world. With some of the hardest working, ethnically diverse EMS providers that have ever worked the streets, these issues must be addressed and corrected by the citizens of New York