Fire Destroys Central Park Ambulances That Drastically Cut Down Response Time | NBC New York

Fire Destroys Central Park Ambulances That Drastically Cut Down Response Time

An overnight fire destroyed two specially crafted ambulances designed to fit under the numerous bridges and tunnels throughout Central Park, endangering crews' ability to respond to potential emergencies. Marc Santia reports. (Published Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014)

An overnight fire destroyed two specially crafted ambulances designed to fit under the numerous bridges and tunnels throughout Central Park, endangering crews' ability to respond to potential emergencies.

The ambulances belong to the Central Park Medical Unit -- a group of 150 volunteers who combat rugged terrain, winding roads and hidden crevices to protect the 35 million people who visit the park each year.

Regular ambulances are too big to fit under all Central Park's tunnels and bridge overpasses, and custom-made vehicles have drastically cut down the time it takes to respond to an emergency in the park.

In 1975, for example, authorities say the average response time was 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Now, the Central Park Medical Unit responds in an average of three minutes.

Behind the Scenes: Central Park Medical Unit

[NY] Behind the Scenes: Central Park Medical Unit
Central Park covers nearly 900 acres in the heart of Manhattan. Thousands of New Yorkers visit it every day, whether it be to run, cycle, play or just sit back and relax. But did you know if you get hurt there’s a special group of volunteers ready to race to the rescue? News 4’s Marc Santia reports.
(Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014)

Garry Resnick, a member of the Central Park Medical Unit, says the group was intended to be a supplement for 911 ambulance services, not a replacement.

But "in a matter of life and death, it really spells a difference," he said. 

The fire at a 108th Street parking garage where the ambulances were kept is under investigation. Fire officials say it escalated to two alarms and took about two hours to get under control.

Five firefighters were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.  

The all-volunteer Central Park Medical Unit is hoping donations will help replace the destroyed rigs. Each of the units and the gear inside, which included stretchers, defibrillators, soft goods and bunker gear, were worth about $200,000. 

"When it comes to transportation, the ambulances are crucial and they need to be replaced as soon as humanly possible," he said. 

Donations may be made at CPMU.com

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