A recent shifting of advanced care ambulance tours in the Forest Hills area has community board members feeling left out of the loop.
At a Community Board 6 meeting in Kew Gardens last Wednesday, board members were surprised to learn that the paramedics ambulance deployed by North Shore University Hospital in Forest Hills would soon be moved to a new position 18 blocks north without any input from the community.
Ted Lehman, community outreach director at the hospital, announced that the ambulance would be leaving its station at 108th Street near the Long Island Expressway, a spot it has occupied since 1998, within the next few weeks.
The Fire Department, which controls the Emergency Medical Service and coordinates ambulance routes, made the change to accommodate the recent addition of a paramedics ambulance by Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills.
The private hospital contracts out its ambulance to Metrocare, a private ambulance company. Stationed at 71st Avenue and Queens Boulevard, the newly-authorized ambulance took its first tour of duty last Sunday.
“We felt that the Forest Hills community was a very densely populated area, and an additional ambulance service would be welcome,” said Frank Mazagati, senior vice president of administration at Parkway Hospital.
According to Fire Department spokesman Michael Loughran, the paramedics unit of St. John’s University Hospital in Elmhurst was redeployed on the same day.
He said that a more comprehensive realignment of paramedics throughout the borough, including the North Shore ambulance, will occur on July 13th.
Concerned about the repercussions such moves might have on the community, CB 6 passed a resolution requesting that the agency not implement any new strategy until September, when the board resumes its meetings.
“Our issue is what is the impact on response time, on the number of ambulances. What does it mean? We don’t know what it means, and we are going to need more information,” said Gail Gordon, chairman of the board’s Health and Social Services Committee.
While the board is on summer recess, her committee and the Public Safety Committee will hold joint meetings on the issue.
But, she admitted, “I am thinking this is something that is kind of done.”
According to Loughran, she’s right.
“The FDNY does not consult community boards when changing the deployment of EMS units. EMS unit deployments are dynamic and inasmuch, are routinely modified to address trends in call volumes and operational needs,” he said.
He also stressed that the realignments happen regularly, and that a community affairs unit does go to numerous community board meetings to answer questions as they arise.