(CNN)First responders in New York City are in "battlefield conditions," forced to treat a rising number of cardiac arrests in "triage mode" and sleeping in cars to avoid exposing their own families to Covid-19.
New York EMS responders are working in 'battlefield conditions,' union rep says
That's the picture painted by Michael Greco, vice president of the FDNY EMS local 2507 union, in an interview with CNN.
The union represents more than 3,000 FDNY EMS and Fire Inspector employees, according to its website.
New York has emerged as the US epicenter of the pandemic.
"We're now in a major triage mode. Battlefield conditions," Greco said. "If we don't get a return of circulation, after 20 minutes we are terminating the CPR and we are not transporting.
"So, the hour, hour and a half we would spend on getting there, taking care of them, bringing them to the hospital, letting the doctors work them up to try and do everything that can possibly be done is now battlefield triage," Greco said of how his crews are treating patients. "We're in wartime mode."
He added, "As a paramedic, I would do one, maybe two cardiac arrests a week. Now, we had a crew yesterday do seven cardiac arrests.
"We've just moved into, 'Anybody who's in cardiac arrest, assume they have it.' "
Crews are struggling amid a lack of N95 masks and other protective gear, he said. They're worried about their own safety and also protecting their families.
"We've got members sleeping in their cars. We've got members trying to isolate themselves in hotel rooms," Greco said.
"We have members who filled out wills because they don't know where this is going."