September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Emergency Medical Services battle rages between private and public
Body:There is a war between public and private Emergency Medical Service (EMS) units in the city of New York.
For-profit ambulances are companies which are loyal to a hospital, not to the public, says Patrick Bahnken, president of the emergency medical technicians and paramedics of Local Union 2507. Bahnken says, Emergency medical services are loyal to the city. For-profit ambulances companies are loyal to profit. He says that for-profit ambulance services were launched in February of this year. Bahnken claims that this is against the City Charter. There was a study conducted on this issue under the watch of former Mayor Lindsey.
Several private ambulance companies were unavailable for comment.
The public EMS units are required to take a written examination along with extensive training, but private paramedics do not. Private EMS personnel earn more and do not have to physically train for their position. All private ambulance companies are sanctioned by the state of New York.
It is not fair to us, says New York Fire Department EMS employee Edward Ortiz. Privatizing ambulance service means that the public is at risk while (EMS) employees suffer because we are not getting the pay we should be getting. Ortiz has been with a FDNY EMS unit for seven years and is a delegate for Local Union 2507.
In order to drive a city-owned ambulance, there is an exam that one must pass, then there is the academy.
Just like the police and fire department, we must go into the academy, says Ortiz.
This academy is Fort Totten Academy in Queens, New York. Private ambulance companies do not put their employees through an academy.
Gerod Allas, a public affairs representative at the Fire Department says, The EMS unit has a high volume in calls. The privates, if anything, are helpful.
Mr. Ortiz does not deny his heavy workload. We get a lot of calls and we cannot be everywhere at once, but private ambulances may come to your aid without proper training. In which case, your life in is danger.
Chris Log, Ortizs partner, says, It is unfair that the privates pay more without physical training. Log has been in the EMS unit for a year. Log continues, The advantage of being with the public (EMS) is that there are good benefits, I will earn civil service status and we will always be here.
When we pick up someone we take em to the nearest hospital, says Bahnken. These (private) ambulance drivers take people to the hospital that is going to pay their check, and it does not necessarily mean to the nearest hospital.
Mr. Ortiz is dedicated to his job and to the people of New York City. I just want what should be fair. If the privates get more money and are state supported then we want more pay. And privates should attend Fort Totten as a state requirement.
Bahnken concludes, There are certain essential services the city must have control over. When you are talking about lives you need one cohesive emergency response system.