Ambulance Service History

NewYork-Presbyterian - Ambulance Historic

In the early 1970's, a private ambulance company, Empire State Ambulance Corp. (no relation to the company that currently operates under that name) provided EMS services to the New York Hospital under contract. In 1981, the Hospital decided to assume its own ambulance operations, and the New York Hospital Department of Paramedic Services (NYH-DEPS) was born.

As early as 1981, NYH Paramedics were performing high-risk infant and neonatal transports to support the burgeoning tertiary neonatal referral center at the Hospital, at the time the only such center between Albany, NY and Philadelphia, PA. In 1986, when the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation formalized participation in the 9-1-1 system in New York City, NYH-DEPS was one of the very first participants in the system, fielding an Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit in Midtown Manhattan. Over the next several years, NYH-DEPS added several units to the 9-1-1 system, including two Basic Life Support (BLS) units. By 1995, the Hospital began to receive increased referrals from affiliated institutions. Most of these were cardiac patients who required the advanced technology offered at the New York Hospital, and the adult critical care transport service was established to complement the already well-known and highly regarded neonatal transport service.

In 1998, after the historic merger that created NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the Department was re-named NewYork-Presbyterian EMS (NYP-EMS) and was the first department integrated across the several locations of the newly expanded Hospital by deploying an ALS ambulance at the Allen Pavilion in Upper Manhattan. NYP-EMS soon added ALS and BLS 9-1-1 ambulances at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights. Demand for interfacility transport services also grew dramatically between 1998 and 2001 as clinical affiliations between the Hospital and members of the newly formed NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System were solidified.

Over the New Year's holiday of 1999-2000, NYP-EMS became the coordinating Department for overall Emergency Preparedness at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and manned the Hospital command center throughout the celebration and the weekend that followed. NYP-EMS also fielded 8 additional ambulance units in the 9-1-1 system during the holiday.

In 2001, NYP-EMS unit "10-DAVID" was one of the very first EMS resources on the scene of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. NYP-EMS deployed 28 responders to the World Trade Center site that day. As a result of the unwavering dedication of the crew of "10-DAVID", EMT Mario Santoro and Paramedic Keith Fairben, perished when the towers collapsed. Paramedics James Pappageorge and Kevin Pfeifer, two FDNY firefighters who also worked with NYP-EMS, also lost their lives. NYP-EMS lost a total of 9 vehicles in the building collapse, more than any other individual EMS agency that responded to the disaster. In the aftermath of the collapse and during the 7 months that followed, NYP-EMS provided two on-site ALS units, 24-hours per day, on standby to care for rescuers working on recovery at the site. NYP-EMS benefited from the generosity of our institutional donors and from the dedication of our EMS staff in the aftermath of the 2001 World Trade Center disaster. Several ambulances were replaced by generous benefactors, and the EMTs and Paramedics of NYP-EMS refocused their energy and talent on continuing the legacies of our fallen co-workers.

Between 2001 and 2004, NYP-EMS expanded critical care, high risk infant, and 9-1-1 ambulance services to become the largest Hospital based EMS provider in New York City. In 2005, the Hospital acquired an ambulance operating certificate that includes Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties, NY. The expanded operating area encompassed 1,852 square miles, and served a population of 9,437,882 (based on 2004 Census projections). NYP-EMS served a larger geographic area than any municipal or hospital-based ambulance service in the State of New York. Our ambulance service area allowed NYP-EMS to more effectively serve our Healthcare System affiliates in the Hudson Valley, Northern New Jersey and Connecticut.

In 2005, NYP-EMS responded to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most destructive and powerful hurricanes ever to hit the United States. Along with the disastrous effects on New Orleans, extensive storm damage occurred along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, including the cities of Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula. It was to this devastated region that NYP-EMS mounted a disaster recovery and medical assistance mission, in cooperation with Operation Assist of the Children's Health Fund and the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University. The disaster assistance response team left for Mississippi on September 14, 2005, composed of several Weill Cornell physicians, and nine NYP-EMS paramedics and EMTs. The disaster assistance team operated for 10 days in temperatures that regularly exceeded 100 degrees, in an environment filled with dangerous debris fields and with no electricity or running water. In their 10 days in the Gulf Coast region, the disaster assistance team helped thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina and provided definitive primary or emergency care to almost 350 people in a region devoid of an organized medical care delivery system. The disaster assistance mission was also the maiden voyage for NYP-EMS's new Mobile Command Center.

NYP-EMS continues to grow. In 2007 our operating area was extended to encompass the entire State of New Jersey, where we are authorized to provide Specialty Care and Basic Life Support ambulance services. For 2008, NYP-EMS is on track to exceed 90,000 calls for service, a truly remarkable number and a testament to the hard work and dedication that our EMTs and paramedics bring to work each and every day.

NYP-EMS cooperates and collaborates with the Greater New York Hospital Association on issues involving hospital based emergency medical services, of which there exist almost 50 providers in New York City alone. NYP-EMS actively participates with the Fire Department of New York, the New York City Office of Emergency Management, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the New York State Department of Health in emergency planning and preparedness activities that benefit the entire Metropolitan New York region.