New Rochelle is continually exploring means of improving critical services, especially through cost-effective regional partnerships. In this spirit, we were pleased to reach an agreement with the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps (SVAC) that should improve the speed of emergency medical response in New Rochelle’s far north end.

Because New Rochelle is long and thin, and because most of our public safety facilities are located in the central or southern portions of the city, average ambulance response time in the far north end has been longer than that for the city as a whole. To help address this challenge, Council Member Marianne Sussman spearheaded a successful effort several years ago to bring on a third New Rochelle ambulance that is assigned to the north end, when not called into service elsewhere. This step, layered on top of the rapid response of Fire Department EMTs from the Stratton Road fire station, has improved conditions. Even so, many residents have pointed out that SVAC’s ambulance is literally stationed on the New Rochelle border and is often the closest option for homes in the north end.

Our new agreement with SVAC — which comes at no expense to New Rochelle taxpayers — will greatly reduce the threshold for triggering mutual aid with Scarsdale and increase the probability of an SVAC ambulance responding to a New Rochelle call. To greatly simplify a somewhat complicated arrangement: when the closest New Rochelle ambulance is in the south end, SVAC will be activated for calls originating north of Quaker Ridge Road.

Ideally, emergency response would be organized on a regional basis, with each hospital serving as the nucleus of its own service area, but, for now, we are required to organize services on a municipal basis. This mutual aid agreement represents our best effort to work effectively with the available tools.

One additional note that emerged in the conversations surrounding this issue. When making a 911 call, if you have the option of using a land line or a cell phone, choose the land line. Emergency calls from local land lines are sent directly to the Westchester regional response center, while cell phone calls are first routed to State authorities. This additional layer can lengthen response time.