First Responders Demand Congress Fund the Front Lines

WASHINGTON — On a conference call Tuesday, front-line EMS and corrections workers from across the country demanded Congress develop a plan to fund critical public services at the state and local levels in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

Related: Complete COVID-19 Coverage from JEMS

In addition to funding services, the public service workers talked about the shortage of masks and the need to ensure that they have access to clear guidance and equipment to keep their communities safe.

“We need more personal protective equipment, including N-95 masks,” said Jared Rosenberg, a paramedic supervisor for the Town of Greenburgh’s Police Department in New York. “We’ve resorted to collecting masks from the public. So far, over 100 N-95 masks and 300 surgical masks have been donated by residents.”

“Additionally, we need more access to testing — not just for potentially infected members of the public, but for first responders who may have been exposed to the virus,” Rosenberg added. “Right now, out of the 40 people we have trained to respond to COVID-related calls, five or six are sidelined in self-quarantine because they haven’t been able to get tested and cleared to return to work. That is unacceptable. First responders deserve testing. It’s also a matter of public safety. We cannot afford to have between 10% and 15% of our workforce unable to report to work for at least two weeks because they do not know if they’ve been exposed. We’ve got to get ahead of this where we can, keep people off the streets and protect workers.”

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