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FDNY required to give EMTs bulletproof vests under bill approved by New York City Council

New NYC bill offers more protection for the people who protect us
New NYC bill offers more protection for the people who protect us 01:58

NEW YORK -- New York City Council approved a bill Thursday requiring the FDNY to give bulletproof vests to EMTs.

Supporters say it's necessary as threats against first responders intensify.

Natasha Nembhard joined the FDNY first as an EMT and now as a paramedic in Brooklyn because she loves to help people.

"I wanted to take care of people. I didn't know that I was gonna be a victim," she said.

She says over the years, 911 calls have become more dangerous. On one recent call, she responded to for a man who was passed out on the street.

"He woke up when we got there ... He got really aggressive really fast and the next thing you know, he pulled out a knife," she said.

Thankfully, Nembhard was OK.

But it was just last year when EMT Julia Fatum was stabbed on the job by a patient in Manhattan.

The year before that, EMT Rich McMahon was shot inside his ambulance on Staten Island, and EMS Lt. Alison Russo was stabbed to death while working in Queens.

"There isn't a day where I don't get notified where one, two, or sometimes there's days where there's six or eight EMTs or paramedics that are assaulted," said Oren Barzilay, president of the Local 2507 union for uniformed EMTs and paramedics.

Thursday, the New York City Council approved a pair of bills to require the FDNY provide bulletproof vests to all of its EMS staff, as well as self-defense training every three years.

City Councilman Joe Borelli, who sponsors the bills, says attacks on EMS have doubled in the past five years.

"If they show up to a crime scene, potentially, they don't know who the good guys or the bad guys are. They treat people the same," he said.

The FDNY already provides EMS with body armor, but this would solidify that practice into law.

But the legislation only pertains to FDNY staff and not the EMTs who work for private companies or hospitals.

Nembhard believes they should get the same protections.

"We just wear different uniforms and work for different companies, but we're doing the same job," she said.

The bill now heads to the desk of Mayor Eric Adams. A City Hall spokesman tells CBS New York he supports it.

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