The FDNY is now confirming that the first emergency medical technician has tested positive for the coronavirus. Officials say they don’t believe he caught it from patient contact, but rather from someone who traveled overseas.
Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors – F.D.N.Y. – Local 2507, said they learned of this latest infection of a Brooklyn EMT on Monday afternoon. It was not known what part of Brooklyn the EMT is from.
“This shows the dangers our members face each day dealing with people who are sick and potentially have the coronavirus.”
His members are currently in a contentious contract negotiation with the city seeking parity with other uniform unions. A statement issued by Frank Dwyer, deputy commissioner for public information read:
“One FDNY EMS member has tested positive for COVID-19. This member was not exposed to COVID-19 through patient contact, and believed to have contracted from an individual who recently traveled overseas. While asymptomatic, this member worked three tours in the last week, partnered with five fellow EMS members, and treated eleven patients. All of the patients are being notified by the Department and will be provided additional guidance from DOHMH. The five additional EMS members are all asymptomatic and are being directed to self-quarantine.”
A total of 19 FDNY members are now quarantined as a result of the coronavirus, FDNY officials revealed.
Barzilay said his members are on the front lines dealing with potential coronavirus cases and he maintained that “this just came to our attention in the last hour or so and it’s our guys who are on the front lines.”
“It’s really more about the mayor acknowledging the work we do, going into life threatening situations and facing these communicable diseases — now we have one of our own infected,” he said. “This is exactly the point that we have been trying to tell the mayor that our job is just as dangerous as anyone else is.”
Barzilay said the union is trying to get the history behind this infection and find out how many people need to be quarantined.
“This becomes problematic because we are the first line of defense and if we are getting sick and we are that first line, after that, God help us.”
In the meantime, all EMT’s and paramedics are issued M95 masks. However, Barzilay said the city should also provide respirators to make us “100% proof against the virus.”
“We are telling our members, just be careful out there,” he sighed.
This story first appeared on amny.com.