A bone of contention for decades in East Boston is the fact that the neighborhood has had only one dedicated ambulance stationed in the community. With Eastie geographically isolated 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 resident Steve Holt waited nearly 30 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 at the time. “That’s the way this ends unfortunately unless changes are made.”
In March 2018 Mayor Martin 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 ordered a second dedicated ambulance to be stationed in the neighborhood. Walsh used overtime funds to pay for the second ambulance in Eastie for the remainder of this Fiscal Year.
Walsh then earmarked funds to have the second ambulance permanently stationed in the neighborhood through a deal with Massport.
Last Wednesday Mayor Walsh, Boston EMS and Massport joined together for a ribbon cutting ceremony to open a new EMS station on Logan Airport property.
“This second ambulance will bring major benefits,” said Walsh. “It will help EMTs move more quickly and efficiently throughout East Boston, increasing capacity if there is an emergency happening at Logan Airport. It will reduce response times for our residents who need immediate medical care, saving even more lives.”
Last year, 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.
Under Walsh, citywide response times for Priority 1 calls were 6.3 minutes in 2018, down from 6.4 minutes in 2017. Boston EMS responds to more than 125,000 calls all across the city each year, 7,700 of those incidents are in East Boston.
“Boston EMS is a national leader in emergency medical services. And this opportunity to add additional resources to serve residents and visitors to the city of Boston with this new facility is an important one,” said EMS Chief James Hooley. “We are happy to be here in East Boston today with Mayor Walsh and Massport.”
Walsh, EMS and Massport collaborated on the expansion of the station at Logan to give EMS a permanent home which can serve not only the airport but the entire East Boston neighborhood.
“At Logan Airport, we work collaboratively with Boston EMS, and when the City wanted to add a second ambulance to service East Boston, it only made sense that we upgrade and expand the existing facility,” said Massport Acting CEO John Pranckevicius. “It is part of Massport’s mission to be a good neighbor to our surrounding communities. This new facility will provide dividends to the growing East Boston neighborhood and to Logan Airport for many years ahead.”
At last week’s ribbon cutting Rep. Adrian Madaro said that when he brought Holt’s daughter’s seizure to Walsh’s attention the Mayor immediately got to work on trying to figure out how to add a second ambulance to Eastie.
“At the time of that incident East Boston’s one and only ambulance was deployed to another call and it took an additional ambulance navigating from downtown through traffic to finally get to that child some 20 to 30 minutes later,” said Madaro. “At that moment I called Mayor Walsh and told him we needed to do something about this. I was very fortunate that it was Mayor Walsh on the receiving end of that call because he immediately sprung into action. He called a meeting with officials and health care providers and saw the data that East Boston had some of the slowest EMS response times.”
Madaro thanked Walsh for bringing all the stakeholders together along with Massport to get this permanent facility built in Eastie.
“This opening gives East Boston’s second ambulance a permanent home and dedicates twelve staff to serve our community,” said Madaro. “Thank you to Mayor Marty Walsh and the Massachusetts Port Authority for your partnership, and thank you to everyone in the community who advocated for this important public safety resource. This is an investment that will save lives.”