Yesterday, thisistheBronX published a report about the Bronx Documentary Center's donation of supplies to the Lincoln Hospital EMS, inspired by a conversation BDC director Michael Kamber had with retired EMT Joe Conzo, Jr. Conzo, who worked as an EMT for 20 years and served as the VP of the EMT union, talked with thisistheBronX about the state of affairs facing the medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the lack of supplies is just one of many major issues they face in the fight against the COVID pandemic.
"We look at it like we're fighting two wars," Conzo said. "We're working in a war trying to save the lives of people in New York City and we're looking to keep ourselves healthy and not infect our own families and loved ones." Those on the front-lines have been facing a harder time when it comes to not infecting others. The latest statistics report that hundreds of NYPD officers have been infected with COVID-19 and thousands more are on sick leave. Conzo said that those numbers, while devastating, don't point out an even bigger problem the EMTs are facing: lack of manpower. The number of EMTs compared to staffs of other first responders make it even more essential for healthcare workers to get the supplies they need.
"30,000 cops out there, 15,000 fire fighters out there," Conzo said. "There are only 4,000 EMTs and paramedics out there." Conzo also indicated that Bronx 911 call centers are undermanned. Despite the dire conditions, there was some good news on Tuesday, though, in the form of assistance from FEMA. AMNY reported that the mayor's partnership with the agency will provide NYC with an additional 250 ambulances and 500 EMTs. For Conzo and for those seeking treatment, even with the arrival of some help from the government, the pandemic has exposed just how broken the healthcare system is.
"You waited five or six hours to see a doctor in the ER, and now you're adding the pandemic to the mix, and people are dying," Conzo said.