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Queens Chronicle

Letters To The Editor

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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2005 12:00 am

Hot Air

Dear Editor:

When you walk into a bodega on Jamaica Avenue where the weather outside is over 90 degrees and they don’t have on the air conditioner, what should you do? I’ll tell you, you walk out and before you do, you let the owner know that they have no regard for their customers or the products being sold.

Why do we need a bodega on every corner anyway?

Joseph Volkens,

Woodhaven

Congratulations

Dear Editor:

Congratulations, Bayside, on your 50th, we at Castleton Volunteer Ambulance, Castleton, New York, are celebrating ours next year. Yes, we too are going through the same staffing problems as you. We get funding from the town via a tax distribution.

We mailed out over 3,000 fund envelopes two months ago and didn’t even get half of them back. I say that “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Our day crew is a paid one, two emergency medical technicians for 12 hours. The cost is a staggering $70,000 per year. This is on our mailer and still people don’t care. Enough said, again, congratulations and good luck.

William Dikant,

Castleton

On Roberts

Dear Editor:

Federal Judge John Roberts Jr., who has been selected by President George W. Bush to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation, has been described as a conservative-leaning jurist with a thin and enigmatic record. Roberts has received cautious support from conservatives and has received subdued suspicion by liberals, both factions focusing chiefly on his views on abortion and other social issues. But little attention has been paid to the fact that Roberts has endorsed a view of presidential war powers that could fairly be described as dictatorial.

Roberts’ views on abortion has yet to be tested. However, his view of presidential power was expressed in an Appeals Court decision handed down just four days before he was tapped to replace O’Connor on the Supreme Court.

Roberts participated in a July 15th decision by a panel from Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding the Bush Administration’s claim that the President can designate any individual as an “enemy combatant” and detain that individual indefinitely. The July 15th decision also assented to the Administration’s claim that the President can create special military tribunals to conduct trials of enemy combatants, rendering decisions that are not subject to judicial review of any sort.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez applauded the Appeals Court’s decision. “The President’s authority under the laws of our nation to try enemy combatants is a vital part of the global war on terror,”

stated Gonzalez, claiming that the ruling “reaffirms this critical authority.” Note that President Bush had planned to nominate his old friend, Gonzalez, to the Supreme Court. However, many Republican senators voiced their vehement opposition because of Gonzalez’s long association with La Raza, a radical Marxist group that claims much of our Southwest must be reunited with Mexico. President Bush cannot be ignorant of this.

By creating a court, the administration poached from the exclusive legislative powers of Congress, by claiming that the President can “try” anyone, the administration usurped the powers of the judiciary. This new doctrine of presidential authority effectively consolidates in one individual executive, legislative and judicial powers. Madison (quoting Jefferson) pointed out in the Federalist No. 48, that “the concentrating of these in the same hands, is precisely the definition of despotic government.” By assenting to that doctrine as part of the Appeals Court panel, Roberts has endorsed executive despotism as a “wartime” necessity—in a war that may last for a generation or more.

Frank Ferrari,

Bayside

Idling Vehicles

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to a letter to the editor from Randy Klein of Elmhurst, who complained about diesel fumes emitting from idling ambulances.

As an EMS administrator, we time to time receive complaints from the public not much unlike yours. While it’s a known fact that diesel emissions are problematic and your complaint holds technical merit, it is a combination of how EMS is provided in New York City and the laws regarding vehicle emissions that are not fully understood by the public, which causes misconceptions.

The City of New York, provides EMS service through the Fire Department and before 1996, by Health and Hospitals Corp. There was a time when HHC was unable to provide adequate EMS service to residents of parts of the city. HHC and the city entered into contracts with the local hospitals in the area to provide 911/EMS services in these areas (this is also the reason why there are numerous Volunteer Ambulance Services in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.) After the FDNY/HHC merger in 1996, FDNY kept the contracts with the hospitals.

In your letter, you mention North Shore/Long Island Jewish EMS units, which would be correct for the locations you mentioned. EMS units in NYC are staged on street corner locations throughout NYC. The reasoning behind this is response times. These locations are assigned by FDNY/EMS and not the hospital. Because of the contract to provide 911 EMS services on behalf of the city, the hospital EMS units must adhere to those locations. I assure you these units were not “hanging out” as you state in you complaint, merely at their assigned location awaiting a call, which some days are busy and some days not, which explains the “sporadic” sightings. Unfortunately, EMS providers are not provided meal breaks and often resort to having a meal in the vehicle when the time presents itself.

Because most of the locations are outdoors, the EMS units must maintain the patient compartment of the ambulance at a specified temperature mandated by New York State Department of Health. So in the winter, the patient compartment would be warm, and in the summer, cool. To accomplish this the engine must be running. Because of this and in response to the Diesel Emissions Laws, the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of EMS issued a policy statement number 05-01, stating that any ambulance “placed in designated locations in the community” to await calls are in “emergency operation” and are exempt from NYS and NYC vehicle-idling regulations. As a side note, ambulances are also exempt from parking regulations while awaiting calls.

With that said, you do have an option, Mr. Klein. You can request the FDNY to move the unit’s location away from the bus stop so that the exhaust will not bother waiting bus riders. The problem is finding that location. The spot must have easy access and enough room for the ambulance to sit. Your local city council person would be more than happy to forward your request to FDNY.

John Buonincontri, EMT deputy chief,

executive officer,

Lindenwood Volunteer Ambulance Corps

Another View

Dear Editor:

Randy Klein complained, in these pages, of ambulances idling for hours on a street corner, when they are between calls. He further complains that when he spoke to the crew, they rebuffed him (my words) by telling him they were in an Emergency Vehicle. I’d like to mention a few points to him and all your readers.

1) In an effort to have speedy response times, 911 ambulances are assigned, not necessarily to sit in a hospital Emergency Department’s parking lot, but to street corners, as per a computer matrix that predicts, by population, road directions, and time of day, where, geographically, an emergency call will most likely be coming in from.

2) As per section 100 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws, ambulances are emergency vehicles. While I do not remember the specific state provisos, emergency vehicles are allowed to keep their engines running while parked. This is to keep power to the two-way radios and communications computers, as well as keeping the patient compartment section of the ambulance cool in the summer heat, and warm in the winter, for the comfort of any sick or injured patient.

3) It is most likely a strange coincidence that any ambulance will be posted at an intersection close by where a lot of incidents occur. If that were true, nobody would like a firehouse in the neighborhood, because by that reasoning, by having a firehouse nearby, it would cause a fire.

4) As the crews are in their ambulances, on that street corner for their 8- or 12-hour tour, it almost sounds like Klein begrudges the crew’s attempt to eat lunch before the next call comes in. They are not supposed to be at their base, eating, they are supposed to be on the street, and available to respond to a call, as were the crews that Klein describes.

5) If Klein always sees the same people in the ambulance, it probably is because the crew is assigned to that vehicle and that vehicle to that neighborhood. Crews learn their districts, and time is not wasted while referring to a map.

Richard Berger,

NYS Emergency Medical Technician,

Belle Harbor

Making It Clear

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to a letter from a Randy Klein. I do not and never have worked for the agency the author singled out, but I have worked with them on numerous calls. In the letter, Klein complains about an ambulance operated by the North Shore University/Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital parking at assorted locations near 63rd Drive and Queens Boulevard in Rego Park.

In the letter it is stated that the vehicle should be kept “where they belong—in the hospital parking lot.” The author might not be aware of the fact that the North Shore Forest Hills Hospital has a contract with the City of New York Fire Department’s EMS Bureau to provide two ambulances for 911 service in Queens, one with paramedic level staffing and one with EMTs. They are required by the FDNY to participate in what is known as System Status Management in EMS fields, whereby emergency vehicles are staged and relocated based on demand and other demographics.

One of the ambulances from NSFH is required to be located by 63rd Drive. The crew is required to keep the engine of the vehicle running at all times so as to allow for the most expeditious response to medical emergencies. I doubt the author would be happy if a family member had to wait for an ambulance because it was shut down and its engine would not start right away.

Ambulances are not the same as your regular car, they are specially designed emergency vehicles with special requirements for their operation. As for complaining that the ambulance crew uses their vehicle to keep warm or cool, that sounds like common sense to me.

EMS crews in the 911 system are not given any meal breaks, just a 20-minute window that they must get permission to use, during which they remain available for calls anyway. Crews work 12 hours at a time out of this facility and an ambulance is like a tiny mobile home. Between calls crew members must manage the necessities of life, including eating and drinking, if it’s soda and a sandwich they use to accomplish this goal, so be it.

Earlier this year the NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of EMS issued Policy Statement 05-01 on February 14th, titled “Re: Idling of Emergency Vehicles” to address possible problems with outdated federal, New York City and New York state idling statutes, which don’t specify EMS vehicles in exempted classes along with police and fire units. The director of the bureau, Edward Wronski, stated, “The Department of Health, Bureau of EMS considers on-scene operations, or the positioning of an ambulance/EMS response vehicle in designated locations within a community, as a component of a planned emergency response system, to be emergency operation.”

Bill Murphy,

Rego Park

Welcome to the discussion.