According to the articles, the citywide average response time for an ambulance was 12 minutes and 23 seconds. The borough of the Bronx had the slowest response time of 14 minutes and 29 seconds while the borough of Staten Island had the shortest response time of 10 minutes and 29 seconds. The article however fails to provide what the difference in call volume per borough is. The 2010 census showed the Bronx population at 1,385,108 and the Staten Island population at 468,730… a difference of 916,378 people. Now in all fairness, they also don’t talk about the number of ambulances each borough has either. For that matter, their lack of detail and analysis really does NOT paint a true picture of what’s going on in the city and is unfair to cast FDNY BEMS in that light.
I know… if you’re a regular reader you might be having a mini-stroke or think I’ve lost my mind… because I just defended FDNY. No, it’s not the end of times, but I’m a bit tired of the media hamfisted their coverage of EMS and EMS issues without relaying all the facts. It reminds me of an issue that occurred in Springfield, Massachusetts that Scott Kier wrote an excellent post (for both at the time AND for today) regarding Emergency Response in that city. Look at the response times in that article and then look at the AVERAGES above… and you’ll see that we’re probably way worse off than you may think. Still, that doesn’t give the NY Post the right to be ham fisting the facts.
Anecdotally I can tell you this… I watched a few nights ago from 8 Penn Plaza as an ambulance came up 8th Avenue and made a left on West 33rd Street. I had heard the ambulance coming up 8th Avenue for about 30 seconds before seeing them, so it took a bit for them to be able to make that turn. Then the SAME ambulance came back around onto 8th Avenue about a minute later (I could hear them again), came back up to the corner, made a right on West 33rd Street, went as far as they could before making a u-turn (because West 33rd Street is no longer a through street between 7th and 8th Avenue because of #Plaza33) and coming back to make a right onto 8th Avenue, a right onto West 34th Street, a right onto 7th Avenue to finally reach their patient on the corner of 7th Avenue and 31st Street. Just to be clear, this was a FDNY ambulance… not a Voluntary Hospital Unit… so let’s not play that blame game.
Delayed response? Oh heck yes. I watched it drive around for what was about five minutes myself when it really should have taken 60-90 seconds to arrive had they known where they were actually going. That to me is an epic issue. Of course, the real question is why? Was the driver truly incompetent or was it a bad location? I don’t know the answer… I just know what I saw first hand.
I also know that anecdotally the FDNY CAD has been breaking 5,000 calls a day over the summer and into the fall. I may be dating myself, but I remember when the CAD broke 3,000 and it was a big deal… yet the article says they are responding to less medical calls? How is this possible? No… seriously… math is NOT my strong point but even I feel like something is NOT adding up here.
DeBlasio has made promises to fix the issue, but I don’t think anyone really understands what the root cause of the problem actually is. There is no “magic” fix, such as adding ambulances (when you don’t have the people to staff them) and hiring dispatchers (who have never worked the street). This is a system issue so there should be a system solution(s) found.
It’s something I’d be more than happy to look at, especially since I now have quite a bit of free time… so Bill, give me a call or drop me an e-mail and we’ll do coffee so I can explain to you the truth about an EMS system as opposed to what your bean counting analyst yes men are saying. It’ll be a good time in the least… promise. Until then I hope the New York Post does a better job of covering EMS and it’s issues.
Yeah… I’m not holding my breath for either one.