First responder staffing levels hit hard by Omicron variant

The New Rochelle Fire Department says 15% to 20% of its firefighters currently have COVID-19.

News 12 Staff

Dec 30, 2021, 1:25 AM

Updated 882 days ago

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Westchester first responders say they're not just responding to emergencies right now - they are also fighting off a potential public safety issue.
They say the Omicron variant is making it hard to keep up staffing levels again.
The New Rochelle Fire Department says 15% to 20% of its firefighters currently have COVID-19.
And unlike most people, firefighters live together at work so if one person tests positive. everyone on their shift has to take off work until they can get test results.
New Rochelle Fire Department Chief Andrew Sandor says it's a challenge, but the department's been able to maintain its staffing, thanks to firefighters putting in extra hours.
"We do have people we can call back. Sometimes, people have to get held over. It really does speak and I got to say at this point, speak to the character of the department because these guys for the last two years have really gone through a lot," says Sandor.
Ambulance services are also having trouble.
They say that's partially because there aren't a lot of new employees coming in since the pandemic closed schools and delayed testing.
Empress EMS says many staff members are triple vaccinated, but it still has to shuffle around non-emergency crews to make sure there’s someone there for your 911 call.


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