Tag Archives: response time

Op-ed: End critical delays in EMS response time

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The need for our EMS to be unparalleled here in New York City is increasingly great. As a city, we must make critical policy changes that will decrease response time and save lives. This February, the average response time to life-threatening medical emergencies in Queens was 10 minutes and 15 seconds, which is not acceptable.

The City Council passed a law that would track end-to-end response times for both fire and medical emergencies, and further require the FDNY to report that response time. New Yorkers need to know the truth. This involves recording not only the time it took for an emergency unit to be dispatched, but also the time it took to process the call.

The law was named for Ariel Russo who was tragically killed when she was struck by a reckless driver trying to evade the police. After the crash, there was a clear error in dispatching an EMS unit and emergency personnel lost at least four critical minutes. The “Ariel Russo Emergency 9-1-1 Response Time Reporting Act” now provides a more transparent record of response times.

Last year, two young siblings, Ayina and Jai’Launi Tinglin, were killed in a Far Rockaway fire. EMS personnel did not reach the scene until 20 minutes after the call was received. The city found that personnel errors preceding the dispatch caused delays in reaching the children, but we see this as only half of the truth. Reports from dangerous, deadly fires have shown that the FDNY only dispatches ambulances after an FDNY unit on the scene confirms it is a structural fire. In this case, had the need for EMS to wait not existed, they could have been dispatched more than six minutes earlier. A lack of resources is likely the main reason the FDNY delays the EMS dispatch.

We believe the FDNY must dispatch EMS units once the report of a structural fire comes in through 9-1-1 and make it part of the many units dispatched within a first-alarm fire.
The FDNY again wasted critical time by waiting to dispatch EMS during a structural fire in Midwood. The fire killed seven children in the Sassoon family: David, Yehoshua, Moshe, Yaakov, Eliane, Rivka and Sarah. It took nearly 14 minutes for EMS to get to the scene.

We write this op-ed to call on the fire department to make three critical policy changes that would reduce response times and improve the level of pre-hospital care.

First, the fire department must change its dispatch policy and immediately send an ambulance upon receipt of a 9-1-1 call reporting a structural fire as part of a “first-alarm.”
Second, we need to greatly expand the number of department ambulance tours. This is the surest way to reduce response times, and the additional tours managed correctly will not only save lives but could also generate revenue for the city.

Lastly, in order to increase department professionalism, promotional civil service exams must be instituted for upper-ranking officers, just like those for the fire department’s firefighters and other public safety agencies. This would also bring the city into compliance with federal and state guidelines to ensure emergency scenes are properly and efficiently handled.

Our EMS personnel work every day to keep us alive, and for that they deserve not only our unconditional gratitude but effective procedures to abide by. Let’s make our EMS stronger for today and always.


Residents eagerly await Sandy relief

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Residents and the elected officials who represent them are grateful that help is finally coming to the south Queens neighborhoods ravaged by Sandy.

“Their houses are destroyed,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder days after the storm. “They’ve got no food. They’ve got no shelter, they’ve got no warmth. Thus far in Broad Channel, in Howard Beach, in Hamilton Beach and all of Rockaway, [people] have received little to no services.”

The Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Guard, along with civilian volunteers, started the relief process in the heavily damaged areas, some of which lost blocks of homes or businesses, one to two days after Sandy’s winds and rains had subsided.

Several agencies set up base at Resorts World Casino New York City in Ozone Park. The Racino itself has staffers preparing and delivering meals to survivors in Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel, said spokesperson Dylan Rubin. Some staffers, he added, were helping to pump water out of homes in Broad Channel. At press time, Rubin said the Racino staff had dropped off nearly 1,000 meals from Thursday, November 1 to Monday, November 5.

On November 5, Mitch Henry, a feeding coordinator for the Red Cross’ Deer Park, Long Island site, said he was shipping hot food supplies as far west as Brooklyn and the Bronx. A Red Cross kitchen was being readied at Fort Tilden, near the tip of the Rockaway Peninsula, but because of issues with the water available, it could not be set up until clean water was shipped in.

Rudolph S. Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich, said he had been in contact with FEMA and was working on getting more relief support to those devastated by the storm.

“I’m trying desperately to get them in Howard Beach and Broad Channel,” he said.

One woman, whose New Howard Beach home saw eight feet of water and whose family lost a total of six cars, told The Courier that, as of Tuesday, November 6, “we haven’t seen the Red Cross at all.”

“I’ve heard of them going door-to-door in Old Howard, but nit on our side,” she said.

Three days after the storm struck the metropolitan area, Goldfeder wondered why there had been minimal relief for people who already suffered so much loss by the storm.

“People are starving,” he said, “it is like a war zone.”

The bulk of Goldfeder’s district, with the exception of Ozone Park, was damaged by the effects of Sandy.

Elected officials and civic organizations throughout the borough have rallied for their neighbors in the south, running drives for food, clothing and necessary supplies.

For Howard Beach, power needs to be restored and stores along Cross Bay Boulevard need help to reopen as soon as possible, said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

“We need to get those businesses up and running on Cross Bay Boulevard,” he said. “They employ many of our local people . . . they generate revenue for the city and state, and provide the services for the community.”

Addabbo said Con Ed was going through the neighborhoods in the south of his district that had been struck with power outages. Con Edison, Addabbo said, essentially had to check power boxes to ensure they did not have water damage.

Addabbo, whose Howard Beach office was severely damaged, said once recovery was completed, the process of moving forward could begin.

“At that point, people will start feeling a little better about themselves,” he said. “So I’m hoping within the next week or so we can start getting back to normal.”