CHICAGO (CBS) — The city’s mandate is forcing some workers to be on no pay status until they’re able to show that they are vaccinated. For four paramedics, they want to return to the job they love without being forced to be vaccinated.

“We are not unwilling to work. I love my job.”

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Meet four Paramedics with the Chicago Fire Department, who spent the pandemic risking their lives.

“We initially didn’t know if we were going to be killing ourselves or killing our families, but we showed up every day because we care about what we do.”

We are hiding their identities, so they don’t risk their jobs, but none of the four are working now. They’re on no-pay status for going against the city’s vaccine mandate.

“I believe that the public wants first responders who are true to themselves.”

We know at least one in the group has had her COVID shots, but all four are not reporting it to the city. They say the mandate goes against their contract, requiring the city to negotiate any changes to their working conditions. They say there should have been more talks.

“We would just like the opportunity to be heard and negotiate.”

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And by sticking to their guns, they’ve been told to sit out.

“I don’t know why it had to turn so absolutely threatening.”

They are some of the 32 people, or .65 percent of CFD on no pay status, according to a letter from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to City Council Friday. In total, 78 percent of CFD is vaccinated, which she calls “steady progress toward fully compliance.”

Still, the department is moving firefighters from engines to ambulances to fill the positions of people sitting out. It says that’s not leading to limited service, but the paramedics disagree.

“When you call 911 because your father is having a stroke, and the city has downgraded all these apparatuses, and you’re sitting on your front porch waiting 17 minutes for an ambulance to pull up, this is why.”

All four want to get back to work, but for now their convictions in control.

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“The same rights that I have to honor for a patient who is competent and doesn’t want medical care, I’m just asking for those same rights.”

Marie Saavedra