12 Fraught Hours With E.M.T.s in a City Under Siege


Which, in a feeling, it is.

With colossal general public housing projects and households crammed into sagging, multiunit households, Paterson is a densely populated city of approximately 148,000. These times, the city’s ambulance contact quantity, for every capita, is as good as New York City’s, asserted Brian J. McDermott, the fatigued chief of the Fire Section.

There have been 576 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Paterson as of late Wednesday afternoon, a amount continuously mounting. The emergency division at St. Joseph’s University Clinical Middle in Paterson is remaining hammered with patients the 650-bed healthcare facility, at the moment handling about 100 Covid-19 scenarios, is browsing for outdoors spots for additional beds. Regardless of the efforts of the E.M.T.s to continue to keep reasonably unwell folks at dwelling, practically 80 % of ambulance phone calls for suspected coronavirus have been major more than enough to require transportation to the hospital.

Desperate to be noticed by a doctor, panicked men and women are exaggerating indications, decided to get taken to St. Joe’s, as the healthcare facility is commonly recognized. But also in this greater part immigrant, Latino and African-American city, quite a few callers fear that if they have the virus, the ambulance won’t present up. Alternatively, some men and women give dispatchers indications for bogus grievances.

A several weeks ago, deceived by dispatch phone calls for “leg pain” and “sick human being,” E.M.T.s ran into houses sporting only masks and gloves. Now growing figures of them are ill or in quarantine.

The Paterson Fireplace Section authorized New York Times journalists to accompany a 12-hour shift of E.M.T. crews outfitted specially to answer to likely Covid-19 scenarios. The grueling working day provided a glimpse into the chaotic, danger-loaded lives of emergency employees who are reaching right into the jaws of the pandemic.

“I can’t imagine I’m declaring this, but I’d pretty much alternatively go to a hearth simply call,” explained Brian Hirschmanner, a firefighter and E.M.T. “At the very least you can see what you are preventing. And it ultimately goes out.”

On a chilly spring early morning, nine E.M.T.s assigned for the day to response only achievable coronavirus phone calls reported for responsibility in an inflated tent in entrance of the Lakeview Firehouse. The tent is a designated decon — decontaminated zone — in which freshly sterilized hazmat equipment is saved.


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