Response to heart attack ‘more tragic’ than explained; standard of care for incident at least two providers, not fly-car’s one

To the editor:

Regarding the May 30 story on emergency medical service, I would like to clarify some critical points.

First, the response to this situation was even more tragic than the town supervisor explained. The Village of Pelham Manor police called for emergency medical service at 10:32 p.m., and the contracted paramedic responded within minutes. But dispatch at the private-ambulance company Pelham contracts with (Empress) sat on the call for five minutes before dumping it out to Westchester 911 for mutual aid. A Pelham Manor police officer radioed for the ambulance to be “expedited,” and after the 911 dispatcher frantically tried two other agencies in vain, the Village of Larchmont ambulance finally accepted the call at 10:42 p.m.—more than 10 minutes after the police called. The Manor police again radioed frantically for the ambulance, asking when it would arrive. The Larchmont crew flew to the Manor but arrived more than 19 minutes after that first call for help.

Second, I realize that many neighbors mistakenly believe that the Pelham EMS fly-car is an “emergency room on wheels,” when in fact, it is one paramedic in an SUV with a limited number of medications and equipment. Importantly, the fly-car cannot take a patient to the hospital, regardless of the situation.

Most critically, the standard of care for a patient with a major cardiac issue is at least two providers, preferably four or more, not one person, working alone, sweating bullets, doing their best, waiting desperately for additional help.

And when a person suffers a stroke, minutes make the difference between recovering and being permanently diminished—but a medic cannot supply any treatment—the protocol is to get to a stroke center in under an hour. So, you need an ambulance. This is why every other community in Westchester has one.

Local officials have taken some steps to fix this, but they need the support of the community. Pelham has come together to get all sorts of things done to make this a special place. Let’s come together for this and get an ambulance—it is literally the difference between life and death.

I am a nationally certified EMT.

Mark Cardwell

86 Reed Avenue