Hatzolah came to the rescue Tuesday when an ambulance failed to arrive to a spot on the New York mayoral campaign trail. The incident contributed to the debate over emegency response time in the city.
Democratic candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was attending a press conference on Tuesday outside of P.S. 132 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that included City Council member Diana Reyna. During the conference, a teenage intern of Reyna’s collapsed. Although 911 was called almost right away, medical teams were slow to arrive. Quinn started making other calls on behalf of the young woman, identified as Yvette Toro, 18, even trying to contact police commissioner Raymond Kelly.
Half an hour after the first 911 call, there were still no ambulances in sight, so while the Speaker was still making calls, one of Quinn’s aides, Howard Pollock, instead called the Williamsburg branch of Hatzolah. The Jewish medical emergency group was on the scene in less than four minutes. The bus, driven by volunteers Yosel Levy and Motty Klein, were already taking Toro away from the scene when a New York City ambulance finally arrived.
In a statement to the New York Post, an FDNY spokesman said “Every call for medical assistance is important and ambulance dispatching is prioritized so life-threatening calls — for a choking child, cardiac arrest or chest pains — take precedence over non-life-threatening injuries — when the patient is breathing, alert or communication. That was the case here.
“In addition, the patient was being treated by a police officer, who is an EMT, so care was being administered from the moment the incident occurred.”
“Thank you @HatzolahNYC for the great work you do and all of your assistance today,” Quinn later tweeted, after expressing anger to reporters about the city’s slow response time. Toro was taken to Woodhull Hospital, and later sent home to rest.
Hatzolah, which relies entirely on volunteers and is run mostly with private funds, is known for its fast response times because it responds to a limited number of calls, primarily within the Orthodox Jewish communities where it is based.
Comptroller John Liu, also running for mayor, noted in a statement that the Hatzolah volunteers were observing the fast of Tisha B’Av.
“Many thanks to the Hatzolah volunteers who stepped forward at a moment’s notice, even on their fasting day, when the emergency response system failed and they were most needed. New Yorkers are fortunate that these selfless emergency responders are willing to put it all on the line in order to ensure the health and well-being of those in need. We all owe you a debt of gratitude. A hearty Yasher Koach to you, Hatzolah.”