New Chicago paramedics graduate early to assist in COVID-19 pandemic

Chicago’s beleaguered first responders will soon be getting some help, as nearly 36 new paramedics will be hitting the streets in the next couple of days after their training was accelerated.

That, as Mayor Lightfoot announces the city will be taking over a downtown hotel to provide a home away from home for first responders.

A no-frills swearing-in ceremony, with social distancing, of course, occurred for 34 new city of Chicago paramedics who were rushed through the Fire Academy to help battle coronavirus.

“Your city needs you more than ever,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “And as proof of that, you need look no further than the fact you’re graduating ahead of schedule.”

The state-certified paramedics crammed 10 weeks of training into four weeks and will be reporting to firehouses across the city within the next four days.

“This will be the epitome of trial by fire,” said Richard Ford II, Chicago Fire Commissioner.

The city also announced it has contracted with the Essex Hotel in the South Loop to provide 274 rooms for first responders, firefighters, and paramedics during the pandemic.

The mayor says it’s not for those who become sick, but those who worry about unintentionally infecting their families.

“The reality is they’re coming into contact with the virus every day and working long hard hours,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “And some of them may prefer to stay downtown rather than going home to their spouse, kids, parents or friends.”

The mayor says the city is working on additional hotel accommodations for frontline healthcare workers. Altogether, the city is now renting more than 2,000 hotel rooms for people battling the virus.

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