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During National EMS Week, Thank First Responders with More Than Words

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As New York City became the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, emergency medical services (EMS) professionals, including AFSCME member Laura Hartnett, were working 16-hour shifts instead of their normal eight-hour shifts to respond to the flood of emergency calls.

Across the country in California, AFSCME member Blake Andersen was part of a “strike team” of EMS professionals who worked around the clock to evaluate passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship who may have been infected with the virus.

In Arizona, AFSCME members and paramedics Michelle Prentice, Patti Davidson and Seth Cribb, like their counterparts in every state, continued to answer the call of duty every single day despite dangerous shortages of personal protective equipment that put them and their loved ones at risk.

These are but a few of the stories of AFSCME members across the country who are EMS professionals and whose service to their communities since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus deserves the highest levels of praise, respect and gratitude.

During National EMS Week, let’s thank these everyday heroes with heartfelt words but also decisive action. To recognize their invaluable service to our communities, we must demand that Congress approve legislation to fund the front lines.

The worsening economic downturn brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic has already cost nearly 1 million state and local workers their jobs. Unless Congress takes decisive action now to help states, cities and towns, public service workers across the country, including EMS professionals, will continue to be laid off or furloughed and communities in every corner of America will have to go without essential public services, including ambulance service.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would help prevent further harm to states, cities and towns. Called the HEROES Act, it would provide, among other things, $875 billion in state and local aid to help communities across America preserve vital public services.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders has urged Congress to move quickly on the proposal, saying, “A crisis of this magnitude demands the boldest possible response, and this bill meets the moment.”

This year, National EMS Week comes amid a national emergency of nearly unprecedented proportions. Just as EMS professionals across the country are rising to the challenge, so must the U.S. Senate.

Now is the time to approve the HEROES Act and for President Donald Trump to sign it into law.

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