EMS and 911 Dispatch is Essential in COVID-19 Crisis

A Letter to the Editor from Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac)

To Our Friends in the First Responder Community,

Since Gov. Cuomo has announced the 100 percent workforce reduction of all non-essential businesses, I’ve heard many of you expressing your concern and dismay about EMS and 911 dispatch not being listed alongside fire protection and law enforcement as essential.

Due to this, I have had multiple conversations with representatives from the governor’s office and, unfortunately, it is clear this was an oversight in language. As someone who has both worked and volunteered as an EMT for years, I understand how sad and common it is for EMS to be overlooked. Initially, fire protection and law enforcement were singled out as essential in the guidance, but emergency medical services and 911 dispatch were not. Empire State Development (ESD) had initially interpreted EMS and 911 dispatch to be included under the category of ‘emergency management and response,' but the lack of clarity regarding EMS and 911 dispatch had bewildered many who work and/or volunteer in emergency services.

After our advocacy, which was joined by many others, I am pleased to report the ESD Guidance for Essential Businesses was updated to specifically include both EMS and 911 dispatch. I’d like to thank the reps from ESD and Gov. Cuomo’s office for their assistance in making this important clarification happen. You can learn more about what qualifies as an essential business at esd.ny.gov.

To all our first responders out there who are working hard during this frightening and difficult time, thank you for all you do. Your community truly appreciates all of the hard work you have done to help keep us all safe.

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne
94th Assembly District