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An FDNY EMT on Thursday shared her experience on the front lines with Congress in a plea for hazard pay and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) against coronavirus, according to reports.
Diana Wilson elaborated on the exhaustion shared among first responders via video to the House coronavirus committee, according to a report from the New York Post. She said the government’s unpreparedness for the pandemic in insufficient planning and protective gear likens to health perils responders experienced during 9/11.
“Let us remember how EMTs and paramedics during 9/11 affected our department,” she said. “Remember how members were being told that the air quality was safe, and still experiencing staff dying to this very day? Fast-forward to today, responding first to this virus: When does EMS [emergency medical services] get the PPE we need to protect ourselves and save lives? When does EMS get the pay they deserve for being first medical responders?”
Wilson also noted an increase in calls for cardiac arrests, and despite responders’ best efforts, patients are found dead in their homes and cars.
“The government failed us by not protecting first responders by providing us with a plan and PPE. We are haunted by our choices, and the patients we do not save,” Wilson said, according to the outlet. “There were other countries who had strategies to respond to this type of scenario, and we were grossly unprepared.”
Wilson reportedly lost her husband last year and hasn’t seen her two children in weeks for their own protection while she works long shifts.
While responders trained for Ebola and continue to train for active shootings, Wilson said “we failed on a plan or training for this pandemic at any scale.”