Paramedics in NY outraged over orders not to revive cardiac patients amid coronavirus crisis

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Paramedics in New York are outraged over orders issued by the state to not try to revive anyone found in cardiac arrest citing to a lack of resources during the coronavirus crisis.

New York state decided first-responders should let people die as it issued the do-not-resuscitate orders last week, revising previous directives that attempts could be made to revive patients found in cardiac arrest for up to 20 minutes, the New York Post reported.

A state Health Department memo claimed the drastic change was “necessary during the COVID-19 response to protect the health and safety of EMS providers by limiting their exposure, conserve resources, and ensure optimal use of equipment to save the greatest number of lives.”

The new guideline is being used “in many areas of the US as well as other locations throughout the world” even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the memo claimed.

“These changes are based on standards widely agreed upon by the physician leaders of EMS Regional Medical Control Systems across NYS and the Medical Standards Committee of the State Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council,” a spokesperson for the health department said in a statement.

“They’re not giving people a second chance to live anymore,’’ Oren Barzilay, the president of Local 2507, Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors Union, said according to the Post. “Our job is to bring patients back to life. This guideline takes that away from us.”

Paramedics were still able to try to revive patients at the scene for up to 20 minutes, according to guidelines issued earlier this month by the Regional Emergency Services Council of New York, which oversees the ambulance service for the city. But if resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful at the scene, those patients could no longer be taken to the hospital because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients.

“Now you don’t get 20 minutes of CPR if you have no rhythm,” an unidentified veteran FDNY Emergency Medical Services worker told The Post. “They simply let you die.”

He added that “a small percentage,” about three or four out of every 100 patients without a pulse, are ultimately revived at hospitals using CPR, or other aggressive measures but “for those three or four people, it’s a big deal.”

The New York City Fire Department told emergency services workers that “the NYC 911 system will continue to maintain a higher level of care,” in a letter issued right after the state’s memo, seeming to indicate that they could continue to attempt revivals on scene.

The reports on the latest orders to New York’s first responders set off a wave of reactions on social media:

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Frieda Powers

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