FEMA sends EMTs and paramedics to NYC to help coronavirus crisis

By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

(CNN) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent hundreds of ambulances, EMTs and paramedics to New York City this week to help assist FDNY amid the coroanvirus pandemic.

New York is considered the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak, with at least 83,712 reported cases of the virus and at least 1,941 deaths, according to CNN's latest tally of US cases.

The additional help includes 250 ambulances and 500 EMTs, who will help transfer patients and respond to emergency calls.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has received a record number of medical emergencies each day, with a 50% increase over normal daily call volume, FDNY said in its news release.

On Tuesday alone, FDNY EMS responded to 6,010 medical calls, Jim Long, a spokesperson for the department, told CNN.

The fire department is also experiencing staffing shortages, with 2,900 FDNY members currently out sick, Long said.

At least 282 of FDNY's members have tested positive for coronavirus, Long said. That figure includes firefighters, EMS and non-uniformed members.

"Right now we're in a bit of a crisis," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. "If we weren't, you wouldn't be here. There will be plenty of work for everyone and all I can say is, thank you so much for being there for the people of the City of New York. Being there for our agencies which are so overwhelmed, so overworked these last few weeks. They're normally overworked so you can imagine when you double that what happens."

The department is urging New Yorkers to only call 911 if it's a medical emergency or if people are feeling severely ill.

"Our EMTs and paramedics are doing unbelievable work under the toughest of circumstances," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Tuesday. "This week, I promised them help was on the way, and today it is. Our partnership with FEMA will give our first responders the help they need to continue being the heroes of our city."

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