Uh oh. WNYC just reported that last night, one of the city's largest private ambulance companies ceased operations on Wednesday night, after filing for bankruptcy.
This comes at a bad time, too, as the city is already struggling to reduce ambulance response times.
TransCare, the company that ceased operations on Wednesday, operated 27 ambulances in the Bronx and Manhattan for seven hospitals.
They also employed 200 EMT's and paramedics, and responded to 911 calls.
The shutdown of TransCare means the city lost 81 ambulance tours, or in other words, 10% of shifts citywide. Obviously, the impact is harder in the affected boroughs.
"The Fire Department has been aware for several months of the financial difficulties faced by TransCare," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro in a statement.
Nigro also said that the fire department has "developed contingency plans - both short and long term - in anticipation of" this announcement.
To fill the vacancy left behind by TransCare, the city staffed FDNY units to work overtime. They also surveyed private hospital and third-party providers to see if they could pick up shifts.
"The city has full faith in FDNY's ability to provide uninterrupted EMS services throughout our five boroughs and will work closely with the department as they continue to implement their long-term strategy for enhancing EMS service delivery," said mayoral spokesperson Monica Kelin.
The city has increased its EMS investment in the past year. It added 45 new ambulance tours last year, and proposed 20 more for this year.
Now, though, with the loss of TransCare, the city's got fewer tours than it did before the new investments.
FDNY Chief James Leonard admitted at a City Council hearing that the FDNY knows it takes too long for ambulances to respond.
"I know the number needs to go down," Leonard said.
"I think [ambulance service] would be a more reliable service if it was 100% run by the FDNY," said Fire and Criminal Justice Chair Elizabeth Crowley.
Vincent Variale, the head of the Uniformed EMS Officers Union, also doesn't think the FDNY should be using private ambulances.
"Peoples' lives are on the line," Variale said. "We have to have something more dependable out there to service the people."
We also don't think the FDNY should rely on private companies for ambulances - ambulances are a public service, and should therefore be drawn from the public funds.
In other words, emergency medical care shouldn't be held within the confines of capitalism. FDNY, how about you get your own ambulances? We know it's easier said than done, but that's a pretty good idea, no?
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