Allow me to say right off that FDNY deserves HUGE kudos and a round of applause for innovating in this manner. Motorized wheelchairs are a problem for any 9-1-1 responding unit who find their patient in one. It’s more of a problem for the patient, who are so dependent on them, when they are taken anywhere without it or knowing that it will be there when they get back.
It is important to note that the ambulance in the report above is a separate vehicle than the one that responds to the emergency and transports the patient. The wheelchair is transported separately due to a lack of space in the patient’s ambulance and for safety reasons. Theoretically this will not delay patient care or transport but achieves the goal of keeping the powered wheelchair and its user together.
Anecdotally I can offer that I had one patient who relied on his chair for pretty much everything. At 1:00am in the morning, picking him up from a street corner caused a huge dilemma. Luckily we were able to get a police van over and were able to lift it into that to bring to the hospital. In case you didn’t know, those motorized wheelchairs are HEAVY and I was thankful to have the firefighters on hand to help out on that lift. I consider us lucky in that specific case because the resources were there and there was nothing pressing that was holding. Had we not been able to get the van and the assist, the wheelchair probably would have been jacked and ended up in a chop shop.
Although so far it looks to be only one vehicle that according to the report already did one call in Brooklyn, hopefully they will expand the coverage and integrate it citywide. It’s this kind of thinking, innovation, and true problem solving that we wish we saw from EMS agencies more often.