2010-01-29 / Editorial/Opinion

EMS Big Made A Deadly Decision

“Volunteer ambulances are no longer needed,” the memo from an unnamed Emergency Medical Service higher-up said. That decision to no longer allow volunteer ambulance corps to participate in the city’s 911 emergency response system is a grave mistake that may well lead to lives lost, beause it effectively boots 25 community-run ambulance corps from the EMS computer system. No longer will our local volies in Broad Channel and Breezy Point be able to log on to the system to find out the location of emergencies or to tell the city that they are ready to respond. While the first response capability provided by the volies remains necessary all over the city, it is critical locally. The nearest city ambulance response to Broad Channel and Breezy Point is either in Howard Beach or Rockaway. The nearest EMS facility is more than five miles away from Broad Channel and 8.7 miles from Breezy Point. The volies are consistently the first on scene for accidents in their respective communities. The Broad Channel Volies have the added responsibility for covering Cross Bay Boulevard, a major roadway along the federal Wildlife Sanctuary, where many motor vehicle accidents, some fatal, occur each year. Last week, we illustrated our story on the new EMS rules with a photo of a multi-car motor vehicle accident on the boulevard. The Volies were hard at work and the city ambulances were nowhere to be seen. Certainly, the fire department should reverse the new rule to bring the volies back onto the system, and they should do it before somebody dies waiting “ for a city ambulance when the volies are only a minute away.

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