Speaker Quinn vows to ramp up ambulance, staffing levels for scorching NYC summer

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – In a perfect world, everyone who’s sick would get an ambulance dispatched to them right away…even if they didn’t know City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.

But a young intern – overcome by Tuesday’s intense heat – was fortunate enough to faint in the Speaker’s presence during a news conference in Brooklyn.

“I want the commissioner and the mayor’s office to take immediate steps to expand the number of ambulances the city has, and make sure we have the staffing levels we need to make sure we get through this summer prepared for the level of calls we will have in the heat wave,” said Quinn.

The young woman had to wait more than 30-minutes for an ambulance to respond to the scene.

It’s also old news.

Complaints about delayed 911 response times have been around for decades and chances are you can still find someone who finds nothing funny about Public Enemy’s 1990 hit “911 is a Joke”.

But after Quinn made a direct call to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who in turn contacted FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano, the intern’s status was re-categorized from a low priority sick call to an unconscious patient.

That upgrade in priority triggered speedier ambulance dispatch.

But the FDNY is making it clear – this was essentially a courtesy.

“Every call for medical assistance is important and ambulance dispatching is prioritized so life threatening calls—for a choking child, cardiac arrest or chest pains—take precedence over non-life threatening injuries—where the patient is breathing, alert and communicating.  That was the case here.”

So it helps to know someone.  This is New York, no surprise there.

So why does this matter to you?

Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Inspectors Local 2507 President Israel Miranda says the case of the ill intern exposes a major flaw in the FDNY’S policy on how incoming 911 calls should be categorized, and then prioritized for an ambulance dispatch.

“In this young lady’s case, she passed out. We understand that. But you can pass out for many different reasons. And just because you were still speaking and awake, and their policy says that’s still considered a low priority – I would think something like that you may wanna automatically take out of that category, and bring it to a higher category,” said Miranda.

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