By KATIE HOOS
After reviewing a study on the efficiency and effectiveness of the city’s fire department, the New Rochelle City Council is left to grapple with numerous recommendations, including relocating the city’s only ambulance stationed in the north end to a more centralized location downtown.
The study, conducted by Public Safety Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm that analyzes public safety agencies, reported the current status of the city’s fire department and EMS crews and evaluated the implications of several possible changes within the department’s organization.
One suggestion—the recommendation to relocate the north end’s ambulance to a location downtown—was met with trepidation on the council.
Democratic Councilwoman Shari Rackman, whose district—District 6—encompasses New Rochelle’s north end, strongly opposed repositioning the north end ambulance and believes it would do a disservice to the area’s residents.
“When you’re coming from downtown trying to get to a far north point of the city, if you don’t have that ambulance in the north end, the response time just won’t be acceptable,” Rackman said.
Currently, the City of New Rochelle works with TransCare, a private ambulance and emergency transportation provider, to supply paramedic-staffed ambulances throughout the city. TransCare is contracted to operate two amublances—stationed at Fire Station 1, located at 45 Harrison St. and Fire Station 3, located at 756 North Ave.—for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The third TransCare ambulance operates between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and is not assigned to a fire station, but rather sits on Quaker Ridge Road to be available to the north end of the city.
According to the study, the majority of the 4,241 EMS calls received in 2012 came from the center of New Rochelle, sending the north end ambulance out of the area and into the more populated portion of the city for the majority of the day.
When units in the north end—which is serviced by Fire Station 5, located at 456 Stratton Ave.—are unavailable, the city relies on assistance from the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps to respond to calls north of Quaker Ridge Road.
If the relocation were to occur, Rackman said the city would have to rely more heavily on assistance from the Scarsdale team.
“Procedurally, it’s something we’d definitely have to figure out,” she said.
Other suggestions the consultants made as a result of the study included developing an overtime reduction plan, eliminating the fire apparatus from routine EMS calls, updating the fire department’s organizational structure by assigning responsibilities to deputy chiefs and creating a cooperative services task force to work with adjacent communities’ fire departments.
Fire Chief Louis DiMeglio and Leslie Adams, president of Public Safety Solutions, Inc. declined to comment.
City Manager Chuck Strome could not be reached for comment as of press time.