Medical emergencies

Although the average waiting time is stabilized, a few problem areas still remain for serious emergencies

Published October, 2018

By Adrian Blanco

In 2009, when Mayor de Blasio named Michael Flowers director of analytics of New York City, the city started a new program driven by data to detect any kind of inefficiency and tackle it. The Emergency Medical System response time was among the inefficiencies. Using data, they found and reduced the city’s emergency response times. Although the average response time is stabilized for serious emergencies at around nine minutes, there are still a dozen areas where having a serious emergency could be really problematic.

In total, the number of emergency cases has risen in the last few years from 417,470 in 2010 to 555,824 in 2017. Although the time response remains stable for life threatening emergencies, the consequences that a higher number of cases can produce are especially worrying for less accessible areas. Among serious emergencies are cardiac conditions, difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness or major burn cases.

An analysis of the data unveils the less accessible ZIP code areas to have an emergency in New York City. According to it, Midtown Manhattan, north Bronx and south Queens are the worst places to require urgent medical assistance.

Getting rapid medical attention is absolutely critical when suffering a heart attack. The consequences of a heart attack are largely determined by how much of the heart muscle dies, which is why the shorter period of time to get to the incident location matters. Rockaway Point and Breezy Point, in Queens, and Pulitzer Fountain, in the southeast corner of Central Park, are the most life threatening areas to suffer a heart attack. Both ZIP code areas are above the average waiting time of the city.

Rockaway Point

Rockaway Point and Breezy Point are the least connected areas to the closest hospital in Queens, Mount Sinai Brooklyn. It can take more than 13 minutes to attend to a respiratory emergency in this neighborhood area with more than four thousand new yorkers, located at the West tip of the Rockaway Peninsula.

Central Park

Manhattan's Grand Army Plaza in New York, located at the southeast corner of Central Park, is also one of the most inaccessible areas in the city. The average time for an ambulance to get there can be over 13 minutes, two minutes more than the average.

City Island

From the Bronx, the City Island Bridge is the only connection to City Island. With a population of 4,362, the average response time for a cardiac problem is over 12 minutes in this historic seaport community in North Bronx.

Pelham Manor

The village of Pelham Manor, in the north Bronx, is one of the most distant sections of New York City. Its median age is 4 years older than the city average. With a growing older population, the arrival time is more than 10 minutes.

Hunts Point

Close to Pelham, with one of the lowest median incomes for families and a high rate of unemployment compared to the rest of the city, Hunts Point is also quite an inaccessible area for medical services. It takes 9 minutes to attend a cardiac medical emergency.

Another critical condition that the EMS faces is any respiratory emergency call. Although this condition is not as life threatening as a heart attack, a coordinated and fast intervention can save the patient.

Despite this fact, the response time is sometimes even higher than 20 minutes in the most congested areas of Manhattan.

Hunts Point

Again, the 10,479 inhabitants of Hunts Point face the highest waiting times to be attended due to a respiratory problem. It can take almost 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive to the area.

Park Avenue 52nd

In Manhattan. although Park Avenue is one of the widest avenues in Manhattan, getting to the corner of Park and 52nd can be especially difficult during peak hours. The average emergency time response is above 25 minutes for respiratory problems.

Rockefeller Center

Also, the area around Rockefeller Center is one of the most congested. The traffic is dense and the concentration of people makes it one of the most inaccessibles areas with waiting times over 20 minutes.

Penn Station

Serving more than 350,000 commuters per day and in the most traffic congested area of Manhattan, Penn Station is also one of the worst areas to be in a life threatening situation. On average, the time for an ambulance to arrive and to treat a patient suffering respiratory problems is 14 minutes, a couple of minutes more than the average.

Cypress Hills

The primarily Black and Hispanic population of Cypress Hills, in East New York, faces waiting times of more than 12 minutes. A response time quite higer compared to the average of the city.

Manhattan is definitely the most comprosing neighborhood to have a respiratory problem. On the other hand, the highest amount of reported respiratory problems come from areas of low income, such as Claremont Village in the Bronx and the West Bronx neighborhood. In those areas, the average waiting time is shorter but also the financial situation of the population is tighter.