Dear Friends and Neighbors,
You may have heard of the concerns being expressed over the fact that the mayors of the Villages of Great Neck, Saddle Rock and Kings Point are considering outsourcing our emergency ambulance services to the Northwell Medical Group instead of continuing our 80-year relationship with our homegrown Vigilant Fire Department. On the face of it, such a change is a very bad idea for many important reasons, all of which were discussed by an impassioned and massively overflowing crowd of residents and firefighters at Great Neck Village Hall on Tuesday, March 7. [Read “Community Unanimously Supports Great Neck Vigilant.”]
1. No single outside service can match Vigilant’s record of rapid, reliable and dedicated response—backed up by solid support, when needed, from fellow firefighters and EMTs throughout the county.
2. Emergency ambulance services would be severely degraded, with almost certain loss of life to residents who are critically ill.
3. Experience has demonstrated time and again that Great Neck’s tight physical location, frequently congested traffic conditions and complicating adverse weather factors make it essential that emergency-service personnel and equipment be housed in our community.
4. Loss of village support would be a devastating blow to Vigilant whose emergency ambulance services are closely integrated with its firefighting role. Vigilant has operated without a contract since 2015.
5. It will be very risky to replace Vigilant with Northwell. In my opinion, the community will not be quick to embrace Northwell and Vigilant will not simply fade away. Northwell would likely find itself experiencing losses and think seriously of pulling out. Could Vigilant then be rebuilt?
The Village Board of Kings Point is meeting today, Monday, March 13, at 8:15 p.m. at 32 Steppingstone Lane in Kings Point, adjacent to Steppingstone Park. Several of us are planning to attend, weather permitting, to carry forward the message of how harmful the proposed change will be. I urge you to come if at all possible.
What is the motivation for this momentous and dangerous turn of events? Money, what else? Village officials are being lured by the prospect of shifting the present cost of ambulance services to health insurance agencies, something that cannot now be accomplished under present state law. However, even the roughest cost/benefit analysis strongly suggests that the present road the village officials have taken is sadly mistaken.
At the meeting of the Great Neck Village Board last Tuesday, the mayor contended that no proposal from Northwell is before the village board and that rumors of such are untrue. However, a reporter has written that a spokesperson from Northwell told village officials in January 2017 that if “all” the villages signed on with Northwell, there would be no charges. One would have to be naive in the extreme to think that such an offer is not fraught with many dangers.