911, Ambulance Rides and New Yorkers Everywhere
In the 1980’s 911 was instituted to help EMS and Police respond faster to emergencies within New York State. If you have ever needed to call 911, you know what a relief it is when the ambulance or police show up to help. If you have ever needed a ride in an ambulance, you know what an amazing portable emergency room that vehicle is.
I have had to have two rides in the ambulance. The first was at 17 when I was rear-ended and my knee was slammed into the dashboard. The pain from the injury was intensive, but as the EMT on duty stabilized my leg and got me onto the stretcher, the pain was already lessening from the added support. As I arrived at the hospital, pain meds were immediately available and care was started quickly.
The second time was a life threatening event. I had an allergic reaction to the medication I was taking to prevent asthma attacks and it sent me into the worst asthma attack I ever had. My boss called 911 after watching me struggle to breathe for 20 minutes. There was a huge sense of relief when the EMTs arrived with oxygen and the nebulizer treatment. Three treatments in the ambulance and 4 more in the emergency room finally cleared my lungs. I would not have survived that day if the ambulance had not carried the life saving nebulizer treatments on board. I would have passed away had I chosen to drive myself or had someone else drive me the 30 minutes to the hospital.
I am glad that we live in a state that sends an ambulance to help with a simple call to 911. Appropriate life supporting care is given quickly and confidently as well as a ride to the hospital. Emergency personal within the hospital can be prepared for your arrival with whatever medications, tests, and screenings they need to do because the EMT on the ambulance has prepared them for you.
Unfortunately, there is one group of New Yorkers who do not have access to 911. Those living in group homes for the developmentally disabled are not given access to this crucial service. Instead the staff that care for them are asked to call the company nurse or on call doctor. While this may be fine for a cold or a cut on the hand, to not call 911 in a more severe emergency leaves these New Yorkers in pain and risks their lives. Nurses, even those on site, do not have access to all the medical supplies and life saving treatments that are carried on an ambulance. Think back to the last time you called a doctor’s office. The first thing that the automated message said was “if this is an emergency, hang up and call 911.” There is nothing more an on call doctor can do in a medical emergency for the developmentally disabled than they can do for us. Yet still the staff are instructed to call staff nurses and doctors instead of 911 in an emergency.
In fact, over 75% of untimely deaths within group homes can be attributed to not calling 911. This is unacceptable for the 1 million New Yorkers in state and private care. Please help Health Literacy for All Inc and the Jonathan Carey Foundation address this issue by asking your senator and assemblyman to pass the 911 Bill (S4736-Lanza/ A6830-Weprin). While we currently have over 75% support for the bill in both houses, it is not being brought to the floor for a vote. The legislator finishes for the year in June and if this bill is not brought to the floor and voted on by then, it will be 2019 before this can be voted on. Please don’t leave our most vulnerable unable to access emergency care for another year.If you are not sure who your legislators are or how to contact them, you can find your assemblyman listed at or for your senator at