(NaturalNews) Don't look now, but New York City is doing its best imitation of Detroit, at least when it comes to emergency medical services.
The New York Daily News is reporting that the city's Emergency Medical Personnel - the EMTs and Paramedics who staff city ambulances - sometimes must wait hours for the NYPD to show up, leaving them stuck babysitting dead bodies, which in turn means they cannot respond to other emergency calls.
From the paper:
EMTs are required to stay with deceased patients - even if they're dead of natural causes - until the NYPD gets on the scene. But if cops aren't available, then the ambulance crews have to sit there - unable to respond to the heavy volume of calls.
The 911 system gets up to 4,000 calls a day when the mercury tops 90 degrees.
Tying down ambulance crews for hours
Is it just an occasional thing? Not so much, one veteran EMS worker told the paper.
"It's more common than you think. We can't leave a patient alone, even a dead one, no matter how much other emergency calls back up," the worker said.
According to records obtained by the Daily News, EMTs have waited as long as four hours for cops to arrive, as recently as July 17. "It was just one of the frustrating delays documented on that Wednesday, a snapshot of more madness with the city's 911 system," the paper reported.
There were others:
-- An ambulance screeched towards an urgent call in Forest Park, Queens, for a 75-year-old man around 8:30 p.m. that evening. Police were alerted that the patient was not responsive at 8:51; officers didn't show up at the scene. By 9:35 p.m., frustrated FDNY supervisors were calling police dispatchers asking when officers might actually get there.
About 45 minutes later, at 10:14, once again EMS requested that NYPD come to the scene, but police responded that the "event was stacked," meaning it was in the queue. Finally, officers showed up around 12:10 a.m., leaving that EMS crew out of service for nearly four hours.
-- EMS received a 911 call for a 100-year-old "sick" woman in South Jamaica, Queens. That, too, turned into a lengthy call for EMTs when she died of natural causes shortly after they arrived on scene at about 4:11 p.m. Police were requested shortly thereafter, at 4:23 p.m. According to call logs, the paper said, EMS dispatchers were pressuring police to get on the scene as the time continued to click by. One message at 5:41 p.m. read, "Still waiting on PD."
Ten minutes later, the dispatcher wrote, "Requesting ETA" - estimated time of arrival. That request wasn't answered until 6:28 p.m., when NYPD responded, "No ETA at this time."
Finally, the call was closed out at 7:32 p.m., some three hours later.
Hey Nanny Bloomberg, time for a policy change
From the Daily News:
Two other calls on the same day reviewed by The News showed EMTs waiting from 7:06 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. for cops to claim a body. They waited from 7:56 p.m. to 10:48 p.m. for another dead body.
Officials said it wasn't clear how often EMTs are delayed waiting at death scenes. The average wait time wasn't available.
The NYPD said there's not much they can do to speed things up on their end - even with the city's pressing need to get its EMS ambulances back on the streets quickly with each closed call.
There may not be much the department itself can do about their EMS response times - NYC's a big place with big problems and lots for officers to do - but the city council and the mayor's office can and should address this.
For starters, they can change the policy requiring the NYPD to respond to every death EMS crews encounter by only requiring a response if crews suspect a homicide or other possible criminal act led to the patient's death. That makes much more sense and many other communities around the country do just that.
If grandma keels over because she's 100, that doesn't require a police presence.