On Friday (December 28, 2012) New York State Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Colabella issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting the city of Yonkers from unilaterally altering or removing the city’s emergency medical services program from the Fire Department. The city had ordered that the Fire Department be removed from the EMS program effective January 1, 2013. The TRO is in effect until January 2, 2013 when a hearing will be at State Supreme Court in White Plains.
Currently the Yonkers Fire Department is the primary provider of pre-hospital emergency care with firefighters trained as Certified First Responders. Often fire engines are the first to arrive to stabilize victims, before turning the patient over to paramedics for further treatment and transport to a hospital. In 2012 firefighters were able to use the Auto External Defibrillator on 84 occasions to treat cardiac arrest victims.
“The city’s threatened action endangered the safety of both civilians and firefighters,” said Barry McGoey, president of Yonkers Firefighters Local 628. “It’s unconscionable for the city to endanger public safety as a bargaining chip in a contract negotiation.”
According to the American Heart Association, a heart attack victim’s chances of survival are reduced by 7-10 percent with every minute that passes without treatment and few resuscitation attempts succeed after 10 minutes. Brain and permanent death start to occur 4-6 minutes after cardiac arrest. In cities where Certified First Responders are on the scene within 5 to 7 minutes, such as Yonkers the survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 30-45%.
This is the second TRO issued against the city in less than 6 months. In August a TRO was issued preventing the city from reducing the minimum number of firefighters required to be on duty.