To the Editor,
The terrible delays being exposed in the revamped 911 call system are nothing compared to the huge delays being caused by the closing of so many hospitals in the New York City area–10 since 2006. If four minutes could mean the difference between life and death for a four year old girl, why hasn’t there been a huge outcry, led by the Daily News, about the loss of our hospitals, forcing ambulances to travel greater and greater distances on streets that are choked with traffic, street fairs, Con Ed repairs and construction projects? So what if the ambulance can get to an ailing or injured person in an instant (if we’re lucky)? Long before we had computer glitches in the 911 call system, we’ve had long distances through traffic and long waits in crowded emergency rooms.
There are three times that are important here: 1) response time, from the receipt of the emergency call to the arrival of an ambulance to pick up a patient; 2) transport time, from departure of the ambulance with the patient to arrival at the hospital; 3) emergency room wait time. The last two have been greatly increased by the steady conversion of hospitals to luxury condos, as with St. Vincent’s in Manhattan.
Significantly, requests by Manhattan community members for current transport times have repeatedly been refused by the FDNY and Christine Quinn. To reveal them would be to reveal the effect of the hospital losses that have been approved by Quinn and Bloomberg.
Carol F. Yost