It began last week when an Emergency Medical Services worker contracted the coronavirus from his girlfriend. Three days later, more than 20 of these workers, who form part of the New York City Fire Department, were in isolation for potential exposure to the virus, either through their colleagues, patients or off-duty contacts.
By Wednesday morning, three Fire Department employees had tested positive. Now, more than 150 members of the department are in quarantine, including dozens of E.M.S. workers, according to union and department officials.The speed with which the coronavirus has affected the department’s ranks has rattled New York City’s ambulance crews at a time when these workers may be pivotal in managing a surge of patients with the illness.
Workers say there are already shortages in equipment and manpower, meaning New York’s emergency response system could be hamstrung as the virus works its way through the Fire Department and the city.