FAR ROCKAWAY (PIX11) – In an order written up Tuesday, the FDNY and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department together decided to to implement a new procedure in the Rockaways, the largest urban beach in our country, but parks employees and paramedics in the Rockaways are shocked at what they’re being asked to do to save beachgoers in need of medical attention.
What’s known as a SKED, a roll up pallet, described even on the manufacturer’s website as being “designed for use in mass casualty incidents” is now supposed to be hitched to a Parks and Recreation Department ATV, then pulled through the sand to get a patient to an ambulance.
What’s worse, according to union officials, is just inches away from a patient’s face and body is a muffler.
These are the vehicles used for beach rescues in Coney Island.
Fully equipped and complete with an area appropriate for patient transport.
We carry CO meters and the CO meters at 35 they go ballistic. They go off. It measured at 980 parts per million so now you’re not only dragging the patient through the sand you’re blowing CO on them for a block or two before you even get them to an ambulance,” said Israel Miranda, Union President representing EMS and Paramedics.
Members of Station 47 in Far Rockaway signed a petition and voiced their concern over the new procedure and said they believed “the practice poses a grave and imminent risk to public safety and health as well as an unreasonable risk to first responder health and safety.”
Local 983, who represented parks enforcement officers, also stood up against the policy.
“They did not consult with the union and did not explain to the union how these devices were going to be used. They just arbitrarily decided on their own to implement this procedure,” said Joe Puleo, President of Local 983.
The policy was implemented after a June 20th email from Assistant Parks Commissioner Mike Dockett and within that email pointed out “Park Enforcement Police have been trained in the movement of the SKED with a patient loaded over sand, via ATV towing” but Puleo said that’s not true.
“It’s unconscionable that the fire department along with the parks department would agree to an idea like this. My employees want to see the public is best served and kept safe. They are not properly trained to operate these devices,” said Puleo.
To add to their issues, paramedics who spoke to PIX11 off camera and asked not to be identified have said Hurricane Sandy has restricted their beach access and has forced EMT crews to park farther away. As recently as two weeks ago, paramedics said they were told pick up trucks operated by NYC Parks and Recreation, typically used for trash removal, should also serve as an alternate method of getting injured victims to an ambulance.
Both the FDNY and Parks and Recreation Department said the procedure was put into place to more easily remove patients since the Rockaway boardwalk had been damaged. Both also added the plan would assure patients would receive medical attention quickly and safely, but the ATV would travel slowly.