According to a recent report, New York City’s ability to respond to medical emergencies has reached a critical point, highlighting the importance of on-site medical services.
Over the past year, official data show, the average time to reach people in cardiac arrest or choking rose by 24 seconds — an increase that can mean life or death.
“Every second counts — every second is lost brain cells,” a veteran paramedic explained. “Brain death starts to occur in four to six minutes.”
The overall EMS response time for other life-threatening emergencies rose by 19 seconds, the city data show.
And for all medical emergencies, the response time jumped an alarming one minute and three seconds.
What’s more, 60 percent of current EMS personnel have less than three years on the job because so many veterans have left to become firefighters.
|Emergency||2017 Time||2018 Time||Increase|
|Cardia Arrest/Choking||7:19||7:43||24 sec.|
|Other Life Threatening Emergency||8:56||9:15||19 sec.|
|All Medical Emergencies||10:42||11:45||63 sec.|
The paramedic added, “Because the call volumes are so high, they’re pulling ambulances from different areas, so you’re traveling longer distances.”
The response data tell only how long it takes for an ambulance to arrive at a street address — not the added time it takes to find and reach the patient.
The EMS shortage means that people who call 911 for help have to wait longer for an ambulance than they should. Firefighters can administer CPR, but paramedics bring life-saving medications, intubation to secure the airway, and transportation to a hospital — crucial in trauma cases.
“On several occasions, especially during peak periods, like weekends and evenings, they’ve run out of ambulances,” an FDNY dispatcher said.
Manhattan had the worst average response time for all medical emergencies over the last 12 months (12:34), followed by the Bronx (12:30), Brooklyn (11:34), Queens (10:28) and Staten Island (9:46).
“The numbers are shameful. They’re indicative of an underfunded EMS system,” the veteran paramedic said.
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