On Wednesday, June 11, a GAI student suffered a debilitating seizure and was forced to wait more than 40 minutes for medical assistance.
“We had to call a couple of times,” said GAI principal Anne Prokop. “We called again, and it took NYC Emergency Medical Services a good 20 minutes to come.”
After emergency medical technicians took over, the young girl, whose name wasn’t released, had what the EMTs thought was another seizure. They then informed school officials they’d have to wait for a paramedic to treat the girl.
Basic EMTs usually receive 120 – 150 hours of training, while paramedics get anywhere from 1,200 to 1,800 hours.
Paramedics are allowed to break the skin, while basic EMTs can’t give shots or start intravenous lifelines, which according to accounts, is what they felt the girl needed.
When the paramedics arrived, after another 15 to 20 minutes, the principal received disheartening news.
“They said it was normal post-seizure symptoms,” she said, meaning there was no need for the paramedics’ medical service.
“They told me, this is their protocol, but to me, I think everything was done wrong,” said Cynthia Dafnis, the GAI kindergarten teacher who accompanied the girl to Jacobi Medical Center.
To make matters worse, Dafnis recalled that the paramedics were banging on the window between the driver and the treatment area of the ambulance, telling the driver to turn around. He was driving towards City Island, away from Jacobi Medical Center, she said.
After swinging into the right direction, the ambulance finally arrived at the hospital, and the girl was treated. Specific medical details were not released.
Upon hearing of the potentially tragic incident, Councilman Jimmy Vacca said he’s furious about the day’s transgressions.
“I’m very upset about this,” he said. “It seemed like a very inordinate amount of time, and having this happen one time is one time too many.”
Vacca expressed a commitment to ask the Fire Department commissioner for an explanation.
“I think the people of this neighborhood need to be assured at all times that those driving these ambulances get there expeditiously and know where there going.”
The FDNY, which operated both ambulances that responded, would not comment.