New York paramedic Anthony Almojera urged the public to “just wear a mask,” saying the coronavirus is still circulating and the risk of exposure still remains high.
“We just went through hell trying to revive and take care of people and we don't want to go through it again,” FDNY EMS Lt. Almojera told CNN's Poppy Harlow.
Almojera also underlined the strain that Covid-19 has put on first responders.
“You felt every bit of that energy, and it took all of it out of you as a responder. To sit there and go into home after home trying to revive these people and console them; you know I always thought I had an unlimited amount of empathy. You know, as a paramedic, you have to have some of that, you think you have that. And Covid put that to the test. There is a limit," he said.
Almojera noted EMT workers have not just died from the coronavirus, bu he worries that the pandemic has also had mental health repercussions for first responders.
Two EMTs in New York have already committed suicide and others have expressed the desire to do so, he said.
“We're trying to manage [the coronavirus] crisis, and to have PTSD diagnosed, it takes 30 days after the event. We're not after the event. There's no time to heal," Almojera said.
Almojera adds that the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also needs to address better and equal pay for first responder.
“He's a mayor that preaches equality,” Almojera said. “We’re 54% minority, we're 38% women, we're the most diverse 911 workforce. You would think somebody who would preach equality and see the work that we do as a 911 service, with just the same dangers as the other two, would equalize us. That would be an easy win for him. It's the stroke of a pen.”
“He can fix it tomorrow if he wanted to,” Almojera adds, saying that his EMT members come from the same minority communities that are adversely affected during the pandemic.
“The members I represent live in those communities. We live in East New York, Brooklyn and the Bronx and uptown and in Queens. We live here. We don't have the funds to buy a house in other places," he said.
Watch the interview: