By ALFREDO ALVARADO
The drivers who worked for TransCare, one of the largest private ambulance companies in the city, had been kept waiting more than once for their paychecks before the company suddenly shut down operations on Feb. 24.
The Brooklyn-based company not only failed its employees, but it also put thousands of New Yorkers in a life-threatening situation.
Transcare operated 27 ambulances that provided services for upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
“This is a public service,” said Israel Miranda, president of Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics of the FDNY Local 2507. “Do you hire a private security firm to do police work?”
There’s a big difference between the precarious operations of private companies like TransCare and the service provided by the Fire Dept. of New York, Miranda said. “We have better training, better equipment, there’s supervision and most important there’s accountability.”
Miranda also noted that TransCare didn’t bother to give the city a 90-day notice before pulling the plug as required in their contract.
But residents of Manhattan and the Bronx don’t have to worry: the FDNY has their backs.
Members of Local 2507 and 3621 are working extra tours to pick up the slack created by TranCare’s bankruptcy. “Our members are filling in and doing the job just as you would expect,” Miranda said.
Miranda and Vincent Variale, president of EMS Officers Union Local 3621, have been meeting with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Assembly member Robert Rodriguez, Fire Commissioner Joseph Nigro and Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris to make their case for the additional staff and vehicles required to fill the void left by Transcare.
“We’re also getting support from Elizabeth Crowley in the City Council,” said Variale. Crowley is the chair of the council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee.
The hiring of private ambulance services by the city is not new, Miranda said. Any short-term savings are not worth the long-term costs to the public.
“The city has already gone through this in the past with other companies; it’s about time they learned their lesson,” he said.