By Rich Calder, September 17, 2022
New York City first responders are taking longer to get to fires, medical emergencies and crimes in progress.
Critics blamed the potential deadly surge in response times on serious staffing shortages in the NYPD and FDNY.
As the Police Department continues to deal with spikes in major crimes and a mass exodus of cops, response times to all “crimes in progress” during the past fiscal year ending June 30 increased from 11 minutes and 40 seconds to 12 minutes and 44 seconds – or 9.1%, according to Mayor Adams’ first management report.
In fiscal 2019, which predated the COVID-19 pandemic and the many new challenges it to brought citywide, the average response time was 9 minutes and 55 seconds.
The Fiscal 2022 Mayor’s Management Report released late Friday – which covers the highs and lows of all city agencies during the final six months of ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and the first six of Adams’ – also highlighted a serious uptick specifically in response times to armed robberies, burglaries and other “critical crimes.”
Cops on average responded off 911 calls to these crimes in 8 minutes and 26 seconds, compared to 7 minutes and 52 seconds a year ago. In fiscal 2019, they arrived on average in 6 minutes and 38 seconds after a 911 dispatcher fielded the call for help.
Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Queens), who chairs the fire and emergency management committee, blamed de Blasio’s progressive policies for helping nudge many cops who felt “disrespected” into early retirement and leaving the NYPD short-staffed.
“We need to fix this because without public safety, you have nothing,” she said Saturday. “People’s lives are in danger.”
Combined response times by FDNY ambulances and fire companies to “life-threatening medical emergencies” were up 46 seconds on average in fiscal 2022 – or 8.7% — to 9 minutes and 30 seconds, the report says.
The new numbers are on par with response times in fiscal 2020 — when emergency responders were overwhelmed at the start of the pandemic. But they’re more than a minute higher than the 8 minute and 28 second average in fiscal 2019, when ambulances and fire companies were actually getting more emergency calls.
The city responded to 564,412 “life-threatening medical emergencies” in fiscal 2022, compared to 515,598 the previous year. In fiscal 2019, it handled 567,757.
Oren Barzilay, president of Local 2507, the union representing more than 4,100 rank-and-file city emergency medical technicians and paramedics, said Saturday the city is short hundreds of EMTs and should be devoting more resources to ambulatory services.
“Every second counts in [Emergency Medical Services] because a person could bleed out if an ambulance doesn’t get there on time,” he said. “And if there’s a decreasing number of ambulances on a tour, someone will have to wait longer for an ambulance — and they might die.”
The mayor’s report notes that the “peak number” of ambulances in service daily dropped from 516 to 497 the past year.
It also says that, while the number of reported structural fires dropped from 24,359 in fiscal 2021 to 23,387 last fiscal year, the average response time to put out these fires rose 3.1%, or by 9 seconds to 5 minutes and 1 second. In fiscal 2019, the FDNY was averaging a similar time of 5 minute and 2 seconds, but it handled many more structural fires — 26,207.
City officials attributed the rising response times in part to increases in traffic congestion citywide — especially on bridges, tunnels and highways – that were driven by resumption of many in-person services following the pandemic.