A concerned community is responding to what they say is a “worrisome” and “life or death” situation.
Ralph Franzese, 87, was walking from his Ozone Park home to his car parked outside on 133rd Avenue last Tuesday, July 30. Despite having his walker for stability, Franzese fell backwards, cracking his head on the sidewalk. He then waited nearly a half hour for an ambulance, according to the FDNY.
A teen girl walking by saw the fall and ran to Franzese’s aid. Others nearby gathered around the senior and called 9-1-1.
While they waited for what was estimated to be 10 to 15 minutes, Frank Dardani, resident and president of the Ozone Tudor Civic, arrived on the scene and called for an ambulance a second time, he said.
The wait continued for roughly another 15 minutes, and an EMS team arrived, amounting to a wait time of 26 minutes.
“From my understanding, response time for emergencies is supposed to be four-and-a-half minutes. That’s out the window,” Dardani said. “What the real numbers are right now – that’s scary.”
The initial 9-1-1 call was made at 4:24 p.m. An ambulance arrived at 4:50 p.m., according to an FDNY spokesperson.
“Those had to be the longest  minutes,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose own home is just around the corner from Franzese’s. “Response time is life or death.”
During the wait, Dardani said Franzese was “very jittery” and did not want to sit still. The elderly man has a low-grade dementia, he said, and did not want to go to the hospital. Neighbors worked to keep him calm and still.
When the ambulance arrived, EMS workers emerged and said they came from Woodside, which ultimately caused the long wait.
“We get an ambulance from Woodside?” Addabbo said. “That makes no sense.”
Just a few blocks away, on 133rd Avenue near 95th Street, is the Lindenwood Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Franzese was near 87th Street. However, the group doesn’t receive 9-1-1 calls and did not pick anything up on its scanner.
The 9-1-1 response time was recently criticized in July after a teen fainted at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s press conference and waited more than a half hour for an ambulance.
Franzese was eventually bandaged and brought to Jamaica Hospital. Dardani said he is “doing fine” and no problems were found aside from a head wound and swelling.