New Law Protects EMS from Assaults

Thanks to new legislation, a person who assaults an emergency services worker could face seven years in prison.

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Announcing a new law designed to help stop assaults on EMS and EMT professionals are (from left): Local 2507 President Israel Miranda, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, and New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro. (Photo by Alfredo Alvarado)

BY ALFREDO ALVARADO AND JUSTIN LEE

A two-year battle for legislation that would help stop assaults on Emergency Medical Services Paramedics and Technicians (EMS/EMT) has ended in a victory for the dedicated first responders throughout the state of New York.

Attacks on EMS and EMT workers have been on the rise since EMT Teresa Soler captured national attention when she was choked and punched in the face several times after she helped a man who was drunk and walking along the Brooklyn Bridge. The man was an assistant district attorney and managed to plea bargain his way out of jail time. Instead, he received only 10 days of community service.

Thanks to the new legislation, the next time someone assaults a paramedic they will be charged with a felony and could face as much as seven years in prison. “Medics and EMTs go to help people, and sometimes they find themselves in harm’s way because the law has been weak,” said 20-year EMT Oren Barzilay, who is recording secretary of Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics Local 2507 of AFSCME’s DC 37. “Now it sends a message to would-be perpetrators.”

New York State Sen. Martin Golden and Assembly member Joseph Lentol sponsored the legislation with major backing from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and Local 2507.  At a press conference on Dec. 18, Local 2507 President Israel Miranda announced plans to launch a public awareness campaign letting New Yorkers know it’s a felony to assault one of his members.

Miranda said the New York Law could serve as a model for national legislation. “It should be a problem for anyone attacking a first responder,” he said. Miranda’s persistence in getting the law passed was recognized by Assembly member Lentol, who noted, “He wouldn’t stop calling us. It was day and night.”

This story was previously posted at http://www.afscme.org/blog.

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