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NY: Ambulance response times in NYC hit pandemic-era highs

2 Jul 2024 10:52 PM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

What’s most interesting about this report is that it uses response times as a measure of system performance. The reality is that according to recently published, peer-reviewed study of over 1.7 million EMS patient encounters, only 6% involved a time-critical EMS intervention.

Additionally, virtually every peer-reviewed study since 2002 evaluating response times and patient outcomes has demonstrated that any response time greater than 5 minutes, has no impact on patient outcomes; and only about 5% of 911 EMS calls could be impacted by a response time 5 minutes or less.

There are much more important, evidence-based measures that can be used to evaluate the performance of an EMS system; such as, compliance with medical director approved clinical bundles of care, EMS vehicle crashes, and patient experience scores

Domains for system performance and potential metrics, approved by 16 national and international EMS, Fire, city manager, and patient safety associations can be found here:

Kupas - Zavadsky - with Logos - Joint Statement on EMS Performance Measures Beyond Response Times - FINAL Approved by Named Associations CLEAN 4-30-24.pdf

A compendium of research related to response times and patient outcomes used to develop these potential metrics can be found here: 

References-Resources on EMS Performance Measures _ Beyond Response Times FINAL 2-15-24.pdf   


Ambulance response times in NYC hit pandemic-era highs

By Linda Schmidt and edited by Amanda Geffner

July 1, 2024


New data shows it's taking longer for ambulances to arrive at the scene of emergencies here in the city.

The union president says city records show the city is on pace to break last year's record number of emergency calls. 

Last year it was 1.6 million, and the union says response times to those emergencies are putting the public in danger.

During the week of Memorial Day, the union says it took an average of nearly 13 minutes for ambulances to respond to life-threatening emergencies and an average of 28 minutes for non-life-threatening emergencies.  

These are the longest response times since the beginning of the pandemic.

"We're talking about people's lives here.  We're not talking about making an appointment with a plumber, or an electrician. We're talking about somebody's loved one who stopped breathing has to wait 11 to 16 minutes for an ambulance to get to their house," Barzilary said.

The union president says the city is equipped to handle about 4,000 calls a day but is receiving about 5,000. In addition to needing more ambulances, the union explains other factors contributing to the slower response times.

"With the lowering of the speed limits in New York City, lowering the lanes that are available for traffic to go through.  All the bike lanes that are added. All the street closures that are added. It's impossible to get through," Barzilay said.

The FDNY responded with a statement apparently agreeing with the union that more ambulances are needed:

"We saw a spike in EMS activity during the pandemic where we required additional resources. We have returned to pre-pandemic levels for our ambulances, but calls have not declined."

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