A Voluntary Ambulance is a hospital-based ambulance that serves the New York City 911 System.
Twenty-five hospitals in New York City voluntarily contribute their ambulances to the City of New York 911 System. Staffed by paid hospital personnel, these ambulances respond to 911 calls at the direction of FDNY Emergency Medical Services (FDNY EMS) dispatch. Thirty-seven percent of ambulance tours in New York City are covered by ambulances provided by these hospitals, also known as Voluntary Hospitals.
As participating members of the FDNY EMS system, voluntary hospital EMTs and paramedics work in close partnership with FDNY municipal teams to provide basic and advanced life support services. They are operationally identical to FDNY EMS units with respect to level of care, medical treatment protocols, and equipment however, because they are staffed by hospital personnel, the ambulance markings and uniforms are distinct. To help publicly identify them as 911 System ambulances, they display FDNY EMS member insignias on their cab doors.
Voluntary ambulances coordinate care with all Emergency Receiving Hospitals in New York City. 911 system ambulances are required to remain neutral with respect to transport destination and are expressly prohibited from the preferential “steering” of patients to their own hospitals under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
In the late 1980s, the EMS Division of NYC’s Health and Hospitals Corp. was grossly unable to handle the full load of 911 calls. They asked hospitals to provide ambulances to the 911 system. In 1996 NYC EMS was absorbed by FDNY to bring in revenue to avoid closing firehouses. In December 2010 the mayor’s office and the Fire Department of New York announced a plan to charge hospitals to participate in the New York City 911 System. The city aimed to collect $8.7 million from the hospitals to help cover the cost of telemetry (online medical control) and Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD). Many feared the added costs would push voluntary hospitals out of the 911 system all together and thereby put additional strain on the FDNY. Many questioned the ability of the FDNY to handle the additional workload and cost if voluntary hospitals were to pull out of the 911 system. The proposal never came to fruition as the FDNY is persistently unable to keep staffing levels needed to provide for more than 66 to 70% of citywide call volume.
The following is a list of NYC’s Voluntary Hospital Ambulance groups
Northwell Health EMS
300 in NYC/ 700 in Nassau County
Some (about half) of those based in NYC are 1199SEIU
- Lenox Hill Hospital
- Staten Island University Hospital
Those working at:
- Lenox Health Greenwich Village
- Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
- Manhassat Core (HQ)
Are Non Union
700 are based Dual 911/Core throughout Nassau County. Northwell is a rebrand of Northshore-Long Island Jewish Health System.
- Northwell staffs four 911 garages in NYC; Lenox Hill, Staten Island Univerity Hospital, Greenwich Village Healthplex ( near Old St. Vincent) and Rego Park Hospital. Only Staten Island University Hospital and Lenox are 1199SEIU affiliated Shops. It’s Lower Manhattan Healthplex and Northwell Health at Rego Park are non-union. The majority of its operations are the dual 911/Core ambulances and IFTs in Nassau County centered around its main campuses in Manhasset.
New York Presbytarian EMS
- Allen Hospital (911 Units)
- Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital (Critical Care/Neo-Natal Transport units)
- Komansky Children’s Hospital
- Columbia University Irving Medical Center (911 Units)
- Weill Cornell Medical Center (911, IFT Units and a Mobile Stroke Unit)
- Lower Manhattan Hospital (911 Units)
- NYP Queens (911 Units, Critical Care Units, Mobile Stroke Unit)
- Hudson Valley Hospital
- Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (911 Units)
- Lawrence Hospital
- Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute
500 Members/ Non-Union
:SEIU1199 Affiliated Garages:
These approximately 1,000-1,500 911 Voluntary Hospital EMS are represented by Service Employees International Union/ 1199 United Healthcare Workers East
A. Mount Sinai Health System
- Mount Sinai Hospital (911 Units)
- Mount Sinai Beth Israel (Seniorcare EMS provides 911 units)
- Mount Sinai South Nassau
- Mount Sinai Brooklyn (911 Units)
- Mount Sinai Queens (911 Units)
- Mount Sinai Morningside (formerly Mount Sinai St. Luke’s) (911 Untis)
- Mount Sinai West (formerly Mount Sinai Roosevelt) (911 Units)
- New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
1199SEIU/ 350 Members
B. Lenox Hospital/Staten Island University Hospital-Northwell EMS
1199SEIU/ 200 Members
C. NYU Langone/Lutheran EMS *
- Lutheran Hospital and the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH) currently called NYU Cobble Hill have merged into NYU.
D. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center/Flushing Hospital Medical Center EMS
E. Maimonides Hospital EMS
- In ongoing negotiations to be acquired by Northwell Health
F. Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) * EMS
Has x 2 North Staten Island Campuses and is in negotiaions to merge with Mt. Sinai.
G. Wyckoff Heights Medical Center EMS
Voluntary Hospital Units Contracted to Private Sector:
- In this configuration voluntary hospitals opt to not run, staff and maintain their own EMS Departments but instead contract this to an outside vendor, a Private EMS Agency. The largest in New York City used to be Transcare, with over 2,500 EMS members, which collapsed abruptly in 2016. Transcare was besides the FDNY the largest single local employer of EMS in NYC.
- In the wake of the Transcare bankruptcy crisis the Hospitals it managed ambulance services for were split up between Seniorcare, Citywide, Empress and Assist with Seniorcare taking the largest share; 4 seperate hospitals.
- The FDNY despised Transcare and still despises this latest configuration which remains in place largely because the FDNY lacks the human resources to staff trucks and the individual hospitals lack the will to establish their own EMS garages. Thus the members are tecnically speaking, PRIVATE EMS, contracted to run VOLUNTARY UNITS, operating in the FDNY 911 System.
- These are some of the busiest most underserved neighborhoods in New York City concetrated inside the Bronx and Central Brooklyn.
Contracted to Senior Care EMS
- Saint Barnabas Health System (SBH)
- Mt. Sinai-Beth Israel Manhattan
- Brooklyn Hospital
- Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center (KBJ)
400 911 Members/ 1,000 IFT Members
Contracted to Citywide EMS
- Bronxcare Health System EMS (Formerly Bronx Lebanon Hospital), 2 ALS & 7 BLS units
100 911 Members/ 600 IFT Members
National Association of Specialty Trades Local 741
Contracted to Empress EMS
- Montefiore Health System
- Montefiore Moses Campus (H29), x1 ALS Unit
- Montefiore Westchester Square Campus (WCS) (H88), x1 ALS, x2 BLS Units
50 911 Members/ 500 more dual 911/IFT in Westchester Division, mostly concentrated in Yonkers, White Plains and Mt. Vernon systems; with flycars in Yorkville, Pelhem, Hawthorne and the Mohegan Casino Racetrack. Empress also operates a Community Paramedicine Program for SBH.
Service Employees International Union-National Association of Government Employees 5000/International Association of Emts and Paramedics Local R220
Interfaith Hospital (Assist Ambulance), 1 BLS unit
25 911 Members/ 350 IFT Members at Brooklyn and Bronx Bases
International Brotherhood of Trade Unions/Local 713