NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — EMTs doing their jobs can face threats from those they are trying to help, and now the state has made it a felony to assault an on-duty EMT.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro was joined by state Sen. Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn), and Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-Brooklyn) and union representatives to announce the law.

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The bill was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Nov. 20. It amends existing law to provide stronger protection for EMTs, paramedics, and EMS officers on duty.

EMT Teresa Soler was attacked on the job three years ago. She was nearly choked to death by a drunken man whom she was transporting to Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital.

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“I couldn’t fight him. He had all the strength on me,” Soler said. “I basically thought that was it. When my partner opened the back doors, I was going to be dead.”

Her attacker was Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Michael Jaccarino, who later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to 10 days community service.

Soler was furious about the sentence at the time, and said she was terrified to go to work – constantly scared that someone would turn on her.

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The new law takes effect 90 days from its enactment.