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NY Post
New York Post
17 Feb 2024


NextImg:NYC pols renew push to mandate body armor, self-defense training for EMTs as assaults rise

With assaults against medics rising, the City Council will take a second crack at passing legislation guaranteeing first responders’ access to body armor and yearly self-defense training.

The bills aimed at protecting NYC’s Emergency Medical Services workers stalled in committee last year, but Council Minority Leader Joseph Borelli (R-Staten Island) said they’ll be re-introduced on Feb. 28 and he expects them to pass this time.

One measure would make it law for the Fire Department to provide EMTs and paramedics with bullet- and stab-proof armored vests. 

The goal of two bills under consideration by the City Council is preventing tragedies like the death of EMT Yadira Arroyo, who was run over and killed by own ambulance in 2017 after it was stolen. Christopher Sadowski
Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) told The Post he’s “confident” his bills to protect EMS workers will be approved this Council session. Daniel William McKnight
EMT Yadira Arroyo was run over and killed by her own ambulance after it was stolen on March 16, 2017, in the Bronx. Tomas E. Gaston

The other would mandate yearly self-defense and de-escalation training.

“Every day, FDNY EMTs put themselves in harm’s way to save New Yorkers lives, constantly facing the danger of being attacked themselves,” Borelli told The Post. “Providing them with the tools to protect themselves is the least we can do to say ‘thank you.'”

In November, Oren Barzilay, president of the union representing more than 4,100 rank-and-file city EMTs and medics, told a Council hearing that “EMT assaults are at an all-time high.”

“Many hundreds of members are not even reporting them due to a lack of action at all by both the [FDNY], the city, and the judicial system,” he said.

In May 2022, The Post reported that assaults and other attacks on EMS workers more than doubled, from 163 in 2018 to 386 in 2021.

A deranged career criminal stole her ambulance and ran Arroyo over.

New data was not immediately available.

The measures — which have early bipartisan support — could help avoid future tragedies like the horrific stabbing death of veteran FDNY EMT Capt. Alison Russo-Elling, a 62-year-old grandmother in September 2022, and EMT Yadira Arroyo, who was run over and killed by her own ambulance after it was stolen in 2017.

The New York Post front page following the stabbing death in 2022 of hero FDNY EMT Capt. Alison Russo-Elling. serinc
In May 2022, The Post reported that assaults and other attacks on EMS workers more than doubled, from 163 in 2018 to 386 in 2021. William Miller

Besides Borelli, the legislation is co-sponsored by Council members Kevin Riley (D-Bronx) and Joann Ariola (R-Queens), who chairs the committee on fire and emergency management.

Barzilay, who supports both bills, said Thursday other safety measures are needed, including having the city outlaw EMTs and paramedics riding alone with patients in the back of ambulances and EMS supervisors riding solo patrolling city streets.