2010-02-26 / Community

Volunteer Ambulances Back On 911 System

EMS Chief Makes Announcement
By Howard Schwach

Emergency Medical System Chief John Peruggia told the City Council that the volunteer ambulance corps would once again have access to the city’s 911 emergency system. Emergency Medical System Chief John Peruggia told the City Council that the volunteer ambulance corps would once again have access to the city’s 911 emergency system. Volunteer ambulance corps will once again be allowed to link to the city’s emergency 911 system, giving them instant access to information about medical emergencies in the communities they serve.

Less than a month after a highranking Emergency Medical System (EMS) official ordered that volunteer ambulance companies throughout the city be removed from the emergency 911 response system, those same officials backed off in the face of a City Council hearing and restored the policy of allowing access.

On Tuesday, Chief John Peruggia, who heads the city’s Emergency Medical System, agreed to restore the policy that allows the volunteers to log on to the city’s system.

City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who heads the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, said, “This hearing, at which Chief Peruggia agreed to restore the policy, is a victory for the volunteer ambulance groups that came out to testify.

While this is a step in the right direction, we have a ways to go before we come to a solution that will most effectively utilize these volunteer groups in partnership with the EMS.”

“I hope today’s hearing demonstrates a willingness and a commitment from the EMS to work with our community volunteer ambulances and the City Council to utilize these free and important resources.”

An e-mail memo issued in January effectively boots 35 communityrun ambulance corps from the EMS computer system, cutting them off from vital information that could save lives, experts say.

Among the 35 ambulance corps affected by the memo were the Broad Channel Volunteers and three volunteer units in Breezy Point.

Broad Channel resident Ed O’Hare, who is the president of the community’s volunteer fire department, says that he doesn’t understand the attitude of the EMS chiefs who made the decision.

“The city needs us, because we’re often the first response to a medical emergency,” O’Hare said. “We’re here only to save lives, and now the city says it doesn’t need us. That doesn’t make any sense.”

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