A bone of contention for decades in East Boston is the fact that the neighborhood has had only one dedicated ambulance stationed. With Eastie geographic isolation from the rest of Boston, coupled with the fact that the only dedicated Boston EMS ambulance is routinely called to serve Logan International Airport, residents have clamored for quite some time for a second ambulance.
The chorus of demands for a second ambulance here has gotten louder in the community over the past year after Eastie residents Steve Holt waited nearly 20 minutes for a Boston EMS ambulance while his daughter suffered a seizure at their Jeffries Point home.
“Someone is going to die before an ambulance gets to them,” said Holt. “That’s the way this ends unfortunately unless changes are made.”
Boston EMS Chief James Hooley has said while the normal procedure is to send a second ambulance over from Boston in the event Eastie’s only ambulance is tied up on a call or at Logan that he did admit sometimes it does take a while to get a another ambulance over to the neighborhood for additional coverage when EMS is experiencing a busier than normal day.
“When the East Boston ambulance is on call we start another truck over to the neighborhood,” said Hooley. “I won’t deny that it sometimes takes a while.”
Mayor Martin Walsh said he has heard enough of long wait times some Eastie residents, especially the sick and elderly, are reporting when it comes to Boston EMS and has ordered a second dedicated ambulance to be stationed in the neighborhood this month.
Walsh said he will use overtime funds to pay for the second ambulance in Eastie for the remainder of this Fiscal Year. The ambulance began service in Eastie on March 12.
Then, as part of the City’s Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget that will be formally submitted in April, Walsh has earmarked funds to have the second ambulance permanently stationed in the neighborhood through a deal with Massport.
As operators of Logan Airport, which utilizes ambulance services in East Boston, Massport has committed to providing a second bay for ambulance in Eastie to further the shared goal of reducing ambulance response times.
“I’m proud that through these investments we’re able to increase our capacity at EMS and improve response times to make sure we reach everyone in the City in need of immediate care,” said Walsh. “This additional ambulance in East Boston and new EMTs across the city will help better serve residents, and will make our emergency response services stronger and more effective than they’ve ever been.”
Last year, Mayor Walsh announced a new initiative that uses data to change the way EMTs are deployed to areas including the Boston Common and Recovery Road area to improve patient outcomes and ambulance utilization. As part of this effort, funding was set aside for a Community Assistance Team to respond to calls that do not require a patient transport, resulting in more efficient use of ambulance utilization.
“Thank you to Mayor Walsh and Massport for working with the community to address this critical issue. The permanent addition of a second ambulance in East Boston is a perfect example of the good that can happen when government collaborates with residents to address community concerns,” said Representative Adrian Madaro, who filed legislation earlier this year to require Massport to house its own ambulance at Logan instead of relying on Boston EMS. “This investment will enhance public safety by improving ambulance response times and addressing East Boston’s present and projected growth.”
Senator Joseph Boncore added that the addition of a dedicated ambulance and new ambulance bay is a welcome relief for Eastie.
“As our community grows and we face new concerns over congestion, ensuring our community has access to reliable public health and safety transportation is a top priority,” he said.
President of Eagle Hill Civic Association Debra Cave, whose group has been advocating for a new police station and ambulance bay in Eagle Square applauded the mayor’s efforts.
“As East Boston continues to grow and thrive, I am excited that Mayor Walsh continues to make investing more resources in East Boston a priority,” said Cave. “This added ambulance is much welcomed and will continue to make sure that East Boston is healthy and receives the service it deserves.”
Mayor Martin Walsh has added a second dedicated ambulance to East Boston this month.