Response times of EMS must be improved

An open letter to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows):

On April 11, a neighbor of mine collapsed on Burden Crescent, a short distance from Jamaica Hospital, and 911 was called by an eyewitness of the fall at 4:45 p.m. I witnessed a Wyckoff Hospital ambulance arriving at the scene at 4:55 p.m., 10 minutes later.

The patient was already being given CPR by two other witnesses when EMS had arrived. EMS did not immediately transfer the patient to a controlled environment inside the ambulance until more than five minutes later for any advanced cardiac life support protocol. The transfer was ordered by an FDNY supervisor who arrived on the scene in response to a second 911 call.

He radioed that the emergency was “cardiac arrest.” The patient was declared dead at 5:31 p.m. that evening at Jamaica Hospital.

If it were indeed cardiac arrest “with the sudden and complete loss of cardiac function … no pulse … patient loses consciousness … respiration ceases almost immediately … and death is virtually inevitable unless effective treatment is given promptly (“Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine,” 1995), then it was a poor EMS response time of 10 minutes for such an emergency.

According to Standard First Aid and Personal Safety of the American Red Cross Society, “the average person may die in six minutes or less if his oxygen supply is cut off.”

I am requesting that a full investigation of 911 and EMS commence, since a 10-minute EMS response time is unacceptable under national response time standards and particularly futile in cases of cardiac arrest, where time is of the essence.

EMS failed a person, a family and Briarwood. This must not happen again anywhere in New York City.

Joseph N. Manago


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