NYC paramedics overwhelmed by coronavirus cases: "We've had 9/11-type calls for eight days"

NYC EMS stretched thin battling coronavirus

A video taken outside of NYU Langone Hospital in lower Manhattan shows nine ambulances backed up in front of the emergency room, all filled with sick patients. With coronavirus cases in New York City soaring, the city's first responders are also facing massive casualties with over 260 reported cases in the FDNY, including ambulance mechanic James Villecco who died from his infection on Sunday. 

"I have never seen anything like this before in my career, or in my lifetime, to be honest," Lilian Bonsignore, chief EMS operator for the city's fire department said. 

The unprecedented amount of 911 calls the department has received so far has forced Bonsignore to tell the public, "If you are not seriously ill, seriously sick, if you are not having a true emergency stay home. Save 911 for those true emergencies."

With the city law enforcement and first responders being on the front lines of the pandemic's worst, their risk of exposure is high. 

"I've never seen 7,000 calls in EMS," Vice President of the FDNY EMS Officers' Union Anthony Almojera told CBS News' David Begnaud. "To give you some perspective, that's more than 9/11. So basically we've had 9/11-type calls for about eight days now."

As a lieutenant paramedic, Almojera said he had seen lines of ambulances backed up outside of hospitals "every day," although according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the pandemic's peak is still ahead. 

Over 800 NYC police officers have reported coronavirus infections. Four members of the department died from their illness, including a detective who had been with the NYPD for 23 years. Nearly 5,200 uniformed members are currently out sick, though leadership vows they will continue to serve the public. 

"We are hurting, we are crying and we continue to fight. We simply have no other choice," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Saturday.