ICS helps FDNY’s EMT Division learn how to transport wheelchairs in an emergency.
For some people, having their wheelchair left behind in an emergency is tantamount to having part of their body left behind. A stressful situation like calling 911 becomes even more stressful because people with disabilities are often forced to leave a device that is so critical to their independence vulnerable to theft or vandalism.
Not long ago, an ICS member was stranded at a park close to his home at 3 am when the battery in his wheelchair stopped working. Forced to call 911 for help to get home, the responders had no provision for transporting his chair with him.
The next morning, his ICS care manager headed to the park to find the member’s chair which, unfortunately, had been vandalized. ICS wheelchair techs carried out an emergency pickup and the chair had to be sent to the vendor for a complete repair.
These kinds of incidents are not at all uncommon, but thanks to New York’s Bravest, we are hopeful they will become less so.
NYC firefighters EMT Division turns to ICS for help
ICS’s expertise with wheelchairs is well known in the community. This led to our getting a call last month from the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM). The agency was requesting our help in figuring out how to transport wheelchairs in an emergency.
“When OEM called, I knew we could help, “said Latricia James, ICS Manager of Member Programming.
ICS’s Rehab Repairs and Member Programming teams worked with the Fire Department’s Operations Planning Unit, EMT Division, on a new initiative to recover and transport wheelchairs after someone is taken to the hospital. The goal is for the FDNY to dispatch a separate vehicle to the scene to drop the wheelchair off at the hospital or a safe holding area.
Led by ICS Repairs Manager Viannette Oquendo, the teams met with FDNY’s Chief of Planning Fred Villani and his unit at Fort Totten, bringing a group of chairs from our clinic, explaining how different models work, and how to safely secure and lift the chairs without damaging them.
“We didn’t have a way to transport electric wheelchairs from the scene of an emergency,” Chief Villani explains, “This test showed us how we could use our medical evacuation vehicles to pick up the chairs.” Now the FDNY will put together a protocol for integrating chair recovery into their field operations.
This is great news for New Yorkers who use wheelchairs and one more reason to love the FDNY! Watch a New12 report about this new service.