2009-06-26 / Top Stories

EMS Cuts Endanger Swimmers

By Howard Schwach

EMS personnel get ready at a recent police event in Rockaway. EMS personnel get ready at a recent police event in Rockaway. Despite the fact that the ocean waters off the shore of Rockaway have been proven dangerous by several drowning events over the past two years, the peninsula will be losing vital city ambulance service this summer.

On July 1, the city will cut the annual Rockaway Summer Enhancement Unit, a single basic life support ambulance that moves around Rockaway during the summer months and has traditionally been stationed on the peninsula from July 1 to Labor Day each year.

Some say that the cut will make swimming in Rockaway more dangerous this summer.

"The Rockaway cut is in addition to 30 ambulance tours the city is cutting citywide," said a local emergency medical technician, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. "They are farming these runs out to private corporations and hospitals in a hope to save money, but they are really cutting a service that people need."

"Rockaway has lots of ambulance runs each day, particularly during the summer," the EMT said. "Taking away that extra ambulance will make it more dangerous because it revolves around the peninsula and is always available for problems on the beach."

City officials say, however, that there will be no diminution of ambulance services because of the cut, which is due to "budget necessities."

"The level of service will remain the same as always," the official said, adding that other ambulances will be available to fill the gap.

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