“I’m terrified,” said Phil Suarez, a New York City paramedic for 26 years who assisted in rescue efforts during the Sept. 11 terror attacks and later served in the Iraq war. “I honestly don’t know if I’m going to survive.'
With coronavirus cases mounting, emergency workers are making life-or-death decisions about who goes to a hospital, and who is left behind.
in Wuhan, China, or the Lombardy region of Italy.One New York City paramedic described responding to a suicide attempt of a woman who had drank a liter of vodka after her cancer treatments had been delayed, in part because hospitals were clearing their beds for coronavirus patients.
Another paramedic said she responded to so many cardiac arrests in one shift that the battery on her defibrillator died.“It does not matter where you are. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. This virus is treating everyone equally,” the Brooklyn paramedic said.
The amount of work has been record-setting for the city’s 911 system, said Frank Dwyer, a Fire Department spokesman.“Our E.M.T.s and paramedics are on the front line during an unprecedented time in the department’s history,” Mr. Dwyer said, adding: “They’re doing it professionally, and they’re doing it because they care about their patients. They care about this city.”
The department said it has started rationing protective gear in an attempt to stave off potential shortages. Earlier this month, the department told workers that they must turn in their used N95 masks — which filter out 95 percent of airborne particles when used correctly — in order to receive a new one.
“The department is carefully managing and monitoring usage of personal protective equipment and critical supplies to ensure we have what’s needed for this long-term operation,” Mr. Dwyer said.Inside ambulances, on rudimentary digital screens, the dispatches are listed — call No. 2,488, sick; call No. 2,555, sick; call No. 2,894, sick with a fever. The screen goes on for rows, a catalog of the city’s ill and dying. Peppered among them are the usual every day calls still demanding attention: injuries, accidents, heart attacks.
New York City’s soundtrack has always included the sound of ambulance sirens. But now, with many of the city’s businesses closed and its neighborhoods quiet, endless wailing seems to echo through the deserted streets.Three weeks ago, the paramedics said, most coronavirus calls were for respiratory distress or fever. Now the same types of patients, after having been sent home from the hospital, are experiencing organ failure and cardiac arrest.
“We’re getting them at the point where they’re starting to decompensate,” said the Brooklyn paramedic, who is employed by the Fire Department. “The way that it wreaks havoc in the body is almost flying in the face of everything that we know.”In the same way that the city’s hospitals are clawing for manpower and resources, the virus has flipped traditional Emergency Medical Services procedures at a dizzying speed. Paramedics who once transported people with even the most mild medical maladies to hospitals are now encouraging anyone who is not critically ill to stay home. When older adults call with a medical issue, paramedics fear taking them to the emergency room, where they could be exposed to the virus.
One paramedic told a 65-year-old patient in Brooklyn, whom she had previously transported to the hospital for recurring issues, to stay home this time and call a doctor.In New York City, 911 calls are handled by both Fire Department ambulances and ambulance companies staffed by area hospitals. Their duties are effectively the same: They respond to the same medical calls, largely determined by what crew is closer and which is available fastest.
Neither the city, the State Department of Health or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued strict rules as to how paramedics should respond to a coronavirus call. In recent days, Fire Department policy — which applies to all ambulance crews in the 911 system — has given more latitude to paramedics to make decisions on how to handle patients they believe have the virus.
Recent guidance has also directed paramedics to wear surgical masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection for suspected coronavirus patients. N95 masks, in short supply, are only worn for certain procedures.Since many hospitals are in dire need of personal protective equipment like N95 masks, paramedic crews employed by the hospitals also face shortages.
The Brooklyn paramedic said she had started sewing her homemade masks with bandannas and coffee filters.Another paramedic in Brooklyn said she had been using the same N95 mask for days. Last week, as she and her partner exited an apartment building after tending to a patient, the building’s supervisor — noticing the pair’s worn equipment — met them downstairs and shoved new N95 masks and a can of Lysol into their arms.
Like doctors and nurses, many paramedics fear they are already infected and have brought the virus home to their families. On March 18, three members of the Fire Department tested positive for the virus. By Friday, 206 members had positive results.Officials for the union that represents the city’s paramedics believe the actual number who have been infected is far higher. At a single station in Coney Island, Brooklyn, seven Emergency Medical Services workers were infected, one union official said.
At least one E.M.S. worker with the viruswas in an intensive careunit last week and on a ventilator.The growing pandemic has tested paramedics physically and mentally, said Anthony Almojera, an E.M.S. lieutenant for the Fire Department who said he cried on the job for the first time in his 17-year career.
He and his team had responded to a cardiac arrest dispatch for a middle-age woman, a health care worker, who had been infected. When paramedics arrived at her home, the woman’s husband, who was also a health care worker, said she had been sick for five days.
The husband frantically explained that he had tried to stay home and tend to his ill wife, but his employer had asked him to work because their facility was overrun with coronavirus patients.Grudgingly, the man told the medics, he went to work. When he returned home after his shift that day, he found her unconscious in their bed. For 35 minutes, Mr. Almojera’s team tried to revive the woman, but she could not be saved.
Usually, Mr. Almojera said, he tries to console family members who have lost a loved one by putting his arm around them or giving them a hug.But because the husband was also thought to be infected with the coronavirus, Mr. Almojera delivered the bad news from six feet away. He watched the man pound on his car with his fist and then crumble to the ground.
“I’m sitting there, beside myself, and I can’t do anything except be at this distance with him,” Mr. Almojera said. “So, we left him.”Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions Read more: The New York Times »
Mit tun die Menschen in New York ganz doll leid! A good leader would have forseen this 3 or 4 weeks before the virus hit their country and could have taken messures. Trump laughed at the virus. Should've closed the airways between Asia.They chose a celebrity instead of a politician.Gutted for the sick and poor in your country.
Times Square, about 5:30pm on Saturday. First responders doing their jobs in a deserted city. Two months ago, the same story happened in Wuhan as in New York today. sadly, these disasters are repeated again. I think the United States and Europe have wasted too much time in the past two months until it is too late.
GodSpeed neverforget911 careforUS Fahrenthold So sorry to hear. We are all scared. Americans are being held hostage to petty childish politics emanating from DC. Do we still maintain that the state of the Union is strong? How? Where is that coordinated action/help from the top? Tragic! 😞 TrumpResignNOW
Dear NY the world capital of capitalism and the richest city in the world, you are crying from the shortage in life saving medical instruments!!! Please tell us where did you spend the trillions you made from Wall Street Stock Market? 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏 be safe. God bless you all 🙏👍 SethAbramson Many of these first responders have lung damage from 9-11 and other rescues. Those who served in the military have lungs that must be severely compromised.
😕 I have a NYTimes subscription which I share with over ten people (yes NYTimes, I’m giving my login to anyone who wants it). But I just wanted to check if you were providing free coronavirus reporting to people who don’t subscribe, and you’re not. You guy are being total scumbags Hundreds of people die everyday, are these people dying of the virus ? Or are they dying of something else and just happen to have the virus? You need to clarify this . because it makes no sense.
Heroes ❤️❤️❤️❤️ 11/9AGENTS=COVID 19 .do you wanna bet the child was Latino? childmurderers Covid19 SethAbramson You’ll survive SethAbramson God bless you. Prayers for you all and our country. Clearly votes Democrats SethAbramson I am praying for all first responders, healthcare workers, and essential infrastructure workers 🙏
You're all in our prayers. Our first responders, medical staff, grocers, pharmacists, truck drivers, delivery people & more ALL need proper protection! American lives MATTER! realDonaldTrump you are another Hitler! TrumpGenocide TrumpLiesAmericansDie TrumpPandemic As a soldier I've seen a lot. I didn't know I could cry anymore. Now I cry and I'm very sad. CODVID19 patients when they die, they feel it. They're very clear about it. It's like they're drowning. Only slower. ...so that they can hear and see everything.
‘Baghdad Central’ Review: Cowboys in the Green ZoneHulu’s show, set during the Iraq War, is a Middle Eastern western filled with ambiguity. JulyNamir So far so goooooood 🤗🤗🤗 Bagdadcentral was so so good. Well recommend it to watch JulyNamir Plz tell me it will be season two 😭😭
As Coronavirus Patients Flood Hospitals, the Rest of New York Feels ‘Like the Twilight Zone’Manhattan’s crowds have disappeared, leaving shuttered businesses, an empty rush hour and only the sounds of HVAC systems audible on quiet streets. COVID19 is bad for human beings but good for the planet. Go totally Green and be dead. Good luck. It had the same live February in China
Fears grow over coronavirus outbreak devastating refugees, civilians trapped by warThe novel coronavirus has swept across the globe, killing thousands and disrupting economies. But, the world has yet to see mass outbreaks among the most vulnerable. Good Luck to you. and AMERICA WAKE THE FUDGE UP!!! At top most level ➡ India The truth is whether this SARS 2-CoV2 becomes endemic rests on the most vulnerable of our world citizens &I’m sad to say this virus will become endemic like the cold and the flu. It’s a new day for our world. It’s our (us& china) fault for exploiting animals in such horrific ways
Will it Be War for Darcey & Tom on Before the 90 Days?Exclusive! 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days star Darcey Silva prepares for her big meeting with Tom Brooks He don't want her confused, horrible mother, desperate, plastic, under emotionally developed self. He's smart .... RUN FAST! She need to pay attention to her daughter's! She's a terrible mother teaching THEM to chase men UGHHH Plastic is not biodegradable, it’s stays around forever DARCY U ARE BETTER THAN THIS GIRL LEAVE HIS ASS IN LONDON
Vin Scully Gives Pump-Up Speech Amid COVID-19 War, We'll Unleash The Tiger!Vin Scully is GUARAN-DAMN-TEEING America will win its battle with COVID-19 . WHO?
Trump's trade war exacerbated shortage of medical equipmentTrade experts accuse President Trump of politicizing the pandemic and risking the lives of first responders by continuing to wage his trade war against China. Trump screws America Yet another..... Oh good Lord!🙄