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New York has undergone much scrutiny throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past week, the state has received even more attention due to a new set of guidelines ordering emergency service workers not to attempt to revive anyone without a pulse when they get to a scene. The directive was quickly reversed by state officials, but only after it began to spark public outrage.
Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, which represents over 4,000 FDNY EMTs, paramedics and fire inspectors, spoke to Fox News about the controversial mandate.
“When you have a healthy, young individual, never had any medical problems in their life and [to] not give them a second chance because of COVID-19? It was the right decision to make to reverse that,” Barzilay said.
On March 31, state officials announced a first set of guidelines limiting patient care in which first responders would only attempt to resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest for up to 20 minutes. Barzilay calls this “Phase A” (or “Phase one”).
“Phase B,” Barzilay said, started on April 17, when emergency service personnel were told that they should no longer attempt to revive patients found in cardiac arrest.
“This is the first time in our city that I can recall that we ever had Phase B. I don't recall in 25 years that I've been here that we've never went into that phase… This is something you would see or hear about, you know, [in] battlefield triage that's done. Or mass casualty incidents,” said Barzilay.
While these blanket orders are an attempt at protecting the health and safety of first responders, the union president says that these drastic measures are not necessary.
“Our mission is to give people a second chance. So while we understand why it's being done, we just thought that it was not necessary at this point since the hospitals are showing a decrease of admissions, and emergency rooms are showing in some places that [they] are emptied,” said Barzilay.
Even before the media started reporting on these new directives, emergency service workers were outraged. New York City’s Fire Department and first responders refused to adhere to the new do-not-resuscitate guidelines.
Barzilay agrees that it was the right move to revoke the order and says that while first responders are prepared for these types of drastic measures, the situation at hand did not call for them.
“It’s a tough call to put our people in. It goes [against] everything they’ve been trained for and everything they believe in.”