Response Time of Emergency Services in New York May Increase Due to De Blasio's Vaccination Mandate
19:00 GMT 28.10.2021 (Updated: 19:01 GMT 28.10.2021)
© AP Photo / John MinchilloFirefighters put out a fire in a vehicle near which lay a box of spent fireworks, Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
© AP Photo / John Minchillo
The New York mayor mandated all city employees to get a COVID-19 jab under the threat of being put on "unpaid leave" starting on 1 November. The mandate follows a similar order from US President Joe Biden, a move that sparked uproar in the country over "rights infringement".
New York City's emergency services might suffer from Mayor Bill De Blasio's vaccination mandate, which enters into force on 29 October. Far from 100% of employees at the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) have received their vaccines, which are now required to continue working. Thus, these services might wind up short of hands to meet all of the city's needs. This, in turn, might result in an increase in response times for police, firefighters, and ambulances.
As many as 25% of NYPD and 32% of FDNY personnel had not been vaccinated as of 28 October, as the deadline for the mandate looms. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro warned that the services might have to resort to extraordinary measures in order to keep up with the needs of the city.
"[We will] use all means at our disposal, including mandatory overtime, mutual aid from other EMS providers, and significant changes to the schedules of our members to ensure continuity of operations".
While the NYPD promised it would be "prepared for any changes in personnel due to the mandate", FDNY Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro predicted that as many as 20% of firefighter stations will be closed starting next week. He warned of the "inevitable" and "irrefutable" consequences of the mandate.
"I don't think the mayor understands what's going to happen on 1 November. You're going to see dozens and dozens of firehouses closed. You're going to see response times climb. It is inevitable. Lives are going to be lost. That is irrefutable".
As many as 46,000 city workers were unvaccinated when De Blasio announced that all of them would have to either get the vaccine by 1 November or prepare to go on unpaid leave.
An anonymous FDNY firefighter confided to Fox News that people who remain on leave for over 30 days would be pressured to "turn in their badges", essentially forcing the unvaccinated to resign. Those who get the jab in time will not only keep their jobs, but will also receive a one-time $500 bonus in their paychecks, De Blasio promised.
28 October, 16:07 GMT
The mayor's vaccination mandate prompted the NYPD and FDNY unions to file separate lawsuits against the city authorities. However, a judge refused to make an injunction and halt the introduction of the mandate. The court will review the Police Benevolent Association’s (PBA) lawsuit on 12 November.