NEW YORK - FDNY paramedic Christell Cadet was hospitalized after she collapsed last week. Now, she’s in the ICU, on a ventilator, battling the coronavirus.
"She had to be at work and the next day she didn't make it, she had to be at the hospital," said Jesse Cadet, Christell's mother.
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The union that represents paramedics and EMTs says that Cadet was on light duty, assigned to a job that kept her at the station. Now, she’s among about 50 EMTs, paramedics, and fire inspectors who have tested positive for the coronavirus. They are among the 84 members of the FDNY who have a confirmed case of COVID-19.
"We are ordinary people with extraordinary passion to help others but we're not immune to this. We are not superheroes," said FDNY EMS Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay.
There are enough N95 masks for every EMT and paramedic, but the union says they are asked to reuse them to conserve resources.
They predict supplies will run out by the end of the week as calls for emergency help are climbing.
The Fire Department reports a seven percent increase in emergency incidents than at this same time last year. And yet one paramedic with nearly 20 years of experience says some New Yorkers are still seeking help for relatively minor maladies like sinus infections and intoxication.
"All of the people that are calling about things that could probably go to a primary care doctor or at least wait and not clog up a hospital are still calling 911 during this pandemic," she said.
And while the union asks the fire department to deploy hazmat units to help respond to COVID-19 related calls the fire department says it is following local and state guidelines on how to manage the national shortage of personal protective equipment.
A spokesperson said, "We hope for a quick return to health for all FDNY members affected by COVID-19."