By Dustin Brown
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center unveiled two new ambulances at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on its Brooklyn campus last week, officially launching an emergency response service targeting Ridgewood and surrounding communities in Queens.
“We’re doing a real public service to the community by having our own ambulances,” said Wyckoff President and Chief Executive Officer Dominick Gio at last Thursday’s event in the hospital’s Stanhope Street parking lot, where the two vehicles sat with a ribbon running between them.
Although the hospital implemented the service two months ago with older vehicles, the new ambulances hit the road that weekend after being blessed by Father Jovito Carungay at the ceremony.
Wyckoff contracted New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan to provide the service, which includes one Basic Life Support Unit — staffed by emergency medical technicians — and one Advance Life Support Unit staffed by paramedics.
The basic unit began service Sept. 16 and operates daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. It is stationed at the corner of Gates Avenue and Seneca Avenue when not responding to a call.
The hospital put the advance unit in service three weeks later on Oct. 7. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the intersection of Wyckoff Avenue and Bleecker Street.
Both are dispatched when the city 9-1-1 service receives calls for nearby emergencies.
On the day before the ceremony, the basic unit responded to seven calls within a period of eight hours, according to Daniel Meisels, New York Presbyterian’s EMS supervisor for the Wyckoff site.
“It’s enhancing the 9-1-1 system by adding two additional units to what is already a busy area,” Meisels said.
The new service is the most recent in a series of improvements the 350-bed hospital has implemented in recent years as it aims to enhance its level of care.
Wyckoff was designated a 9-1-1 receiving hospital in 1997, which meant ambulances dispatched to emergencies in the surrounding neighborhood could begin bringing patients to its emergency room for treatment.
Dr. Sol Gourji, the director of the Pediatric Emergency Room, said hospital officials hope Wyckoff to eventually be designated a trauma center, which would allow the facility to receive more critically ill patients.
The hospital is also in the process of filing a certificate-of-need that will ultimately enable it to independently provide the ambulance service without relying on New York Presbyterian.
Community leaders applauded the service for potentially contributing to a reduction of response time in the area of western Queens hugging the Brooklyn border.
“For significant emergencies like heart attacks, a minute’s difference can save a life,” said Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. “So response time is critical.”
Emergency response time has long been a concern for inhabits of Community Board 5 — which includes Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village — because a network of cemeteries and cross-crossing railroad tracks make travel through the district difficult.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.