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Coronavirus Update: EMS Face Record Number Of Ambulance Calls While Dealing With Delays, Sick Workers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Calls for ambulances in the city broke a record Monday night, and by 9 p.m. Tuesday, there were already more than 6,000 calls.

FDNY EMS workers on the front lines are getting sick, getting back up and afraid of infecting their families when they get home.

"We did 7,253 calls. We broke the record again," said Anthony Almojera, vice president of the FDNY EMS Officers Union.

Ambulances lined up outside NYU Langone on the Lower East Side (Credit: CBS2)

Video shows ambulances lined up outside NYU Langone on the Lower East Side.

"Jamaica Hospital, same thing. There's no room for ambulances. It's congested no matter where you go," said Oren Barzilay, president of the FDNY EMS Officers Union.

"When I left Brookdale Hospital, there was about maybe 15 ambulances outside waiting to be triaged," Almojera told CBS2's Alice Gainer.

CBS2 has shown you how packed Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn is.

RELATED STORY: A Look Inside Brookdale Hospital's 'Medical Warzone'

Almojera, a lieutenant paramedic, says the strain on the hospitals is having a ripple effect, creating delays for them.


Almojera said on Tuesday, an EMT told him, "The hospital doesn't have any beds, and they're using our stretcher to work up the patient and the patient is on a ventilator at the moment and I can't get the stretcher back."

They're hoping the recently constructed temporary hospitals and the USNS Comfort will free up beds at these hard-hit hospitals.

Additionally, FEMA sent 250 ambulances and about 500 EMTs and paramedics from out of state to help Tuesday.

"I want to thank each and every one of you for coming from where you are to help us," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro told them.

The FDNY says 282 members have tested positive for the coronavirus and 20% of EMS are out sick.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

EMS members are concerned about potentially infecting their families when they go home.

"So what they're doing is they're either sleeping in their cars or they're sleeping at the station," Barzilay said.

The union and FDNY say members can now apply for lodging with the city, alleviating one issue.

As for another?

"If you are not seriously sick, if you are not having a true emergency, stay home. Save 911 for those true emergencies," FDNY EMS Chief Lilian Bonsignore said.

They're worried if the call numbers continue to break records, they may have a hard time keeping up.

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