So a couple of things. Tonight, the Daily News is singing the praises of “FDNY EMS crews work[ing] non-stop since Transcare bankruptcy,” a reference to the long-expected news this week that the private ambulance company would be restructured under Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, shutting down its NYC 911 services and leaving an estimated 1,200 employees in the lurch.
Not knocking FDNY for what I’m sure has had to be a step-up of their coverage, but let’s be clear—much of the city’s 911 system is served by private ambulance companies and volunteer services, and they’re picking up TransCare’s slack as well.
Just because the general public, and much of the press, thinks 911 IS the New York City Fire Department, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know better or bother to find out.
Uniformed EMS Officers Union head Vincent Variale has been telling all who will listen, including WNYC this week, that FDNY should do away with the use of private and volunteer ambulance services because:
Peoples’ lives are on the line. We have to have something more dependable out there to service the people.
Something more dependable like FDNY? The EMS side of which is plagued by low morale and chronic underfunding, according to a 2015 report from the Citizens Budget Commission?
FDNY’s own data, provided to the CBC, shows that EMS receives only 13% of FDNY’s annual budget despite being responsible for 75% of the entire department’s calls. How much of the FDNY’s calls are actual fires these days? A whopping 5%. Yet the department counts more than 10,000 firefighters on its payroll and only 5,500 EMTs and medics.
Is relying on private agencies and volunteer organizations the safest bet? Certainly not when they’re run the way TransCare was. But it’s a necessity of the Fire Department’s own making.
On Wednesday the agency’s employees were told the NYC 911 (including Westchester) divisions would be closed over a period of up to perhaps a month, putting over a thousand employees out of work with little notice. By Thursday, it became clear that the hoped for “wind down” was nonexistent and shut down would be immediate.
Finally, late Friday evening, TransCare shuttered the rest of its divisions (the Hudson Valley including Dutchess County and Pittsburgh), which includes the jobs of the 700 employees Tilton praised herself for saving on Twitter: