NEW YORK—New York City city hall has announced plans to lay off as many as 400 EMTs and Paramedics, according to EMS Local 2507 union leader Oren Barzilay.

In an August 19th statement, Barzilay claimed 10 percent of NYC’s 3,700 EMTs and Paramedics would be cut under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to cut 22,000 municipal workers.

“Even with the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 looming and two recent outbreaks in Brooklyn, Bill de Blasio and his team at City Hall wants to balance the city’s budget on our backs, elimination some 400 emergency medical responder positions and placing every New Yorker’s life at risk,” Brazilay warned in his Wednesday statement. “The response times will go through the roof. That would put people at risk. People will die.” 

New York City is struggling financially as state contributions decline, a core tax base decreases as residents leave the city, and the city’s regularly booming tourism industry remains devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to de Blasio, this major reduction to municipal workers will come in October if the city is unable to make up for the major budget deficit with state or federal aid.

“To be clear: City Hall does not want these layoffs to happen, but this is the hold we are in without a stimulus or borrowing authority,” claimed de Blasio’s Press Secretary Bill Neidhardt. “Our EMTs and Firefighters save lives every day and we are working with their unions to find personnel savings to avoid layoffs, but unfortunately all agencies will have to face layoffs.”

Before the pandemic, the number of city EMT’s and Paramedics already decreased from 4,100, while in March and early April a record number of responses to calls were reported, reaching a peak at 6,500 calls per day, according to Barzilay.