More New York EMS workers are being attacked at work

They help save lives – while their own are threatened.

Assaults and other threats against emergency services workers are almost commonplace — they have skyrocketed by 137% from 2018 to last year, according to city data obtained exclusively by The Post.

The staggering numbers come as just last week Staten Island paramedic Richard McMahon was shot in the shoulder by a drunk patient in the back of an ambulance.

The number of “workplace violence” incidents involving first responders like McMahon has more than doubled from 163 in 2018 to 386 last year – evidence that ambulance crews regularly face life-threatening dangers.

The number of incidents first rose to 217 in 2019 and then rose to 329 during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Logs reviewed by The Post show emergency responders and paramedics are routinely hit, kicked, bitten, spat on and threatened by patients who wield knives and other weapons – many emotionally disturbed or on drugs.

“Unfortunately, it’s the world we live in. There’s a lot more happening than is being made public,” McMahon told the Post while recovering at home after surviving last week’s horrific ordeal.

NYPD at the scene where EMT Richard McMahon was shot dead while treating a patient on May 18, 2022 in Staten Island.
NYPD at the scene where EMT Richard McMahon was shot dead while treating a patient on May 18, 2022 in Staten Island.
NY Post Photo/Chad Rachman
Thomas McCauley allegedly shot McMahon in the shoulder in the ambulance.
Thomas McCauley allegedly shot McMahon in the shoulder in the ambulance.
Brigitte Stelzer

Oren Barzilay, chairman of the Local 2507 union, which represents emergency workers, paramedics and fire inspectors, blamed a deepening mental health crisis on top of state legislators passing soft crime policies like the no-cash bail law to cause the surge Attacks on rescue workers.

“It is disturbing to see these incidents of violence increasing,” he said. “Bail reform has certainly had an impact.”

Queens Councilwoman Joanna Ariola, who chairs the Fire and Emergency Services Oversight Committee, said tougher bail laws and increased police forces are needed to protect ambulance crews during emergency calls.

McMahon shows off his injury after being discharged from the hospital.
McMahon shows off his injury after being discharged from the hospital.
Kevin Shehan
According to McMahon, paramedics are being attacked "much more than is made public."
According to McMahon, attacks on paramedics happen “a lot more often than it’s made public.”
Paul Martinka

“EMS workers have never been more at risk,” she said. “We just had a paramedic who was shot.”

The city’s paramedics have been at the forefront of both public health and the crime crisis. They were the first to reach out to and treat critically ill COVID-19 patients during the worst of the pandemic.

Three EMS workers told the Post they are increasingly risking their lives to get the job done.

Alexander Kaplan, a 40-year-old paramedic assigned to EMS Station 44 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, is currently on duty with a knee injury after being attacked by an emotionally disturbed patient.

Brooklyn paramedic Alexander Kaplan was attacked by an emotionally disturbed patient earlier this month.
Brooklyn paramedic Alexander Kaplan was attacked by an emotionally disturbed patient earlier this month.
Alexander Kaplan

Kaplan had taken a patient to a Brooklyn hospital on the night of May 14. There, another patient got up and started beating a police officer – and Kaplan and his partner walked over to help the officer restrain the patient.

“The patient kicked me hard on the backs of both my legs. I fell to the ground and he kicked me in the side and in the back,” said the 16-year-old EMS veteran.

“Nobody knew why this guy got so violent.”

Kelley Gumbs, 45, a paramedic, said he had been attacked by patients three times in the past few years.

He recalled responding to an 911 call to treat a drunk man who was homeless at the Eastern Parkway subway station in Brooklyn. Gumbs said the patient was “cool with us” initially, but he was upset after he was taken to Kings County Hospital, which told him it didn’t have a detoxification unit to treat him.

“He turned me on. He said, ‘You are a liar.’ I apologized to him. I helped him back into bed in the ER and he stuffed one in my mouth,” Gumbs said.

“I’m tired of being attacked. I am tired of my brothers and sisters being attacked.”

Another EMS worker, Karen, has also witnessed many horrific incidents. Her unit recently responded to an 911 call for an emotionally disturbed patient in north Manhattan.

EMT Kelley Gumbs said he had been attacked by patients three times in the past few years.
EMT Kelley Gumbs said he had been attacked by patients three times in the past few years.

The patient was handcuffed from behind, but when he was taken to the hospital by ambulance, he hit his head against the wall. He then began shifting his hands to reach for a gun in his jeans before it was discovered and taken from him.

“I was threatened. I was kicked in the face by a patient. I was spat on,” Karen said.

“I have a family to go home to. We just want to help people. We don’t want to be attacked.”

EMS workers said the most anxious moments during shifts were a 911 call for an “unknown” reason – like the one McMahon received.

“It’s worrying because you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s our job to respond and figure out what the problem is. You have to be super alert at work,” said Karen.

The FDNY, which runs the emergency medical service, condemned attacks on its medics.

“Any act of violence against an EMS member is despicable. EMTs and paramedics valiantly serve New Yorkers, responding to every call with one goal — to save lives by providing excellent emergency medical care,” Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said Sunday.

The FDNY said in a statement it encourages its workers to report all incidents of workplace violence — including physical and verbal assaults — and requires officers to document the cases.

FDNY EMS has also “increased communications training and self-defense/de-escalation training for all members, including new hires, in response to these incidents.”

The department has also issued public notices about workplace violence, emphasizing that assaulting an EMS member is a criminal offence.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/22/more-ny-ems-workers-are-getting-attacked-on-the-job/ More New York EMS workers are being attacked at work

JACLYN DIAZ

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