"We can't just go out and buy another bus. While we do have insurance on the vehicles, the cost of replacements ambulances and the necessary equipment to stock them will far surpass what we expect to recover." - Central Park Medical Unit
Two volunteer Central Park Medical Unit ambulances were destroyed in an early morning fire in a public garage yesterday. The non-profit group has been providing free emergency medical services in the park since 1975 and responds to more than one thousand calls annually. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge
A Total Loss. The interior of an ambulance reveals the charred remains. (Photo: Rafael Castellanos courtesy of Central Park Medical Unit)
By Geoffrey Croft
Two custom designed ambulances belonging to the Central Park Medical Unit were destroyed in an early Thursday morning fire on the upper west side.
The all volunteer unit lost two of its three ambulances in the two alarm fire that broke out at 3:30 am in a public parking garage at 143 W. 108th St., between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues owned by E&B Operating Corp.
The group's oldest and newest ambulances were lost in the blaze which also claimed dozens of other vehicles parked in the commercial garage.
More than one hundred firefighters responded to the scene. The fire took a little over an hour and a half to get under control according to FDNY officials.
Five firefighters were treated for minor injuries at nearby St. Lukes Hospital and released.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The loss for the group is of particular concern because the specially designed $ 150,000 vehicles are built lower than normal ones which allow them to pass through and under all of the park's low tunnels and bridges. This provides greater access through the many miles of passageways helps increase responce time.
(Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge
While other ambulances are not able to pass through several locations the Central Park, which happens periodically the Central Park "buses" have two or three inches of clearance.
The unit operates within the Park and its members have an expert knowledge of the geography of the Park.
"This facilitates our rapid response times, regardless of a call's location," said Greg Levow VP Administration Central Park Medical Unit who notes their average response time is 3 minutes.
The charred remains of the interior of an ambulance.
(Photos: Rafael Castellanos courtesy of Central Park Medical Unit) Click on images to enlarge
Response times for the unit could be increased since they are down to one working ambulance.
The non-profit has approximately 150 volunteers who donate approximately 6,000 hours per year. The group has never charged a single patient for their services since beginning in 1975 and relies on public donations.
"We can't just go out and buy another bus," said Greg Levow VP of administration for the Central Park Medical Unit.
"We are raising funds to help us restore our operations as quickly as possible. While we do have insurance on the vehicles, the cost of replacements ambulances and the necessary equipment to stock them will far surpass what we expect to recover."
The "Crowdrise" tool on their website allows people to donate.
The parking garage onwed by owned by E&B Operating Corp. is located on 143 W. 108th St., between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge
The 100% volunteer Unit operates in complement with FDNY and the other commercial ambulance services and its members hold the same certifications as FDNY and commercial EMS providers, NYS EMT and NYS Paramedic.
In addition to the ambulances e group has two Bike EMS teams and a six-wheeled off-road vehicle.
In recent years we've had several high profile rescues, saves, and incidents:
- Recent Cardiac Arrest Save: http://www.cpmu.com/index.php/aha-recognizes-cpmu/
- Hurricane Sandy Response: http://www.cpmu.com/index.php/hurricane-sandy-response/
- 9/11: http://www.cpmu.com/index.php/911-memorial/
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