The unprovoked stabbing death of veteran FDNY paramedic Alison Russo-Elling will likely further fuel the continued exodus of emergency medical technicians and paramedics leaving their jobs, a top union leader has predicted.
“It’s definitely going to be a game changer now,” said Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, the union representing more than 4,100 paramedics and doctors in the city. “We already knew it was dangerous work, but…it’s murder…and it was outrageous.”
More than 700 new EMTS and paramedics have been hired on average per year over the past decade, but numbers have barely changed as members are already ‘fed up’ with COVID-19 exposure and other hazards they face at work with little support from the city — and quit en masse, Barzilay said.
As of Sept. 28, 199 assaults on emergency medical service workers have been reported this year, bringing the number of assaults to about 250 by the end of 2022, according to data provided by the FDNY.
The totals are actually down sharply from 333 last year and 290 in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. There were 206 assaults in 2019.
However, Barzilay said Saturday that New Yorkers should take the FDNY numbers with a grain of salt. He said many of his members feel it’s not worth reporting an assault because no one listens to them.
“They don’t want to go through the hassle of doing paperwork,” he said. “City and state laws have become so weak that everyone is using mental illness as an excuse to get out of jail. I think our members are just fed up.
Peter Zisopoulos, 34, has been charged with murder and also faces a weapons possession charge in connection with the senseless attack on Russo-Elling, 61, who was stabbed 19 times at 20th Avenue and 41st Street in Astoria around 2:8 p.m. Thursday.
Additional reporting by Susan Edelman.
New York Post