Approximately one out of every four FDNY EMS members called out sick on Friday, just as coronavirus has led to an all-time high in 911 calls that have flooded the system.
Of the more than 4,000 EMTs and paramedics who are part of the FDNY, 24 percent called out sick, according to the department. There were 17 percent of firefighters also out on sick leave, the department said, with the combined number of EMS members and firefighters out sick around 3,000.
New records are being set daily. The FDNY says they are having to put calls on hold because of the volume.
The FDNY responded to 6,527 calls on Monday, a surge of more than 500 from the day before, a department source told News 4. A typical busy day consists of about 4,000 calls, FDNY Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Frank Dwyer has said. Last week, Dwyer said the FDNY saw a call volume over a three-day period that he described as the "largest in our history."
The system has been so jammed up with 911 calls that officials have told residents not to call 911 unless they are experiencing severe symptoms, or are having severe medical issues that are not related to COVID-19.
Even with a fuller amount of EMTs available, there might not be anywhere to bring the patient, with most hospitals stretched very thin when it comes to staffing, beds and equipment. A regional EMT group also issued new guidelines almost unthinkable just days ago, saying that if someone's in cardiac arrest and can't be revived in the field, they should not be brought to the emergency room.
The guidance from the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City applies to the city as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. The group, known as REMSCO, is the state-designated coordinating authority for the region.
Nearly 400 members of the FDNY (including EMS, firefighters and civilians) have tested positive for COVID-19.