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EMS working at record pace as emergency calls soar in NYC
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The city's EMS is on track to respond to more than 1.4 million medical emergencies, which would be a record

The city's strained EMS system is headed for a record-breaking year — as long as its members can keep up the pace.

As of last month, Fire Department ambulances had responded to just over 1.2 million medical emergencies across the city — and they're on track to shatter 1.4 million by Jan. 1, records show.

In the Bronx — a borough plagued by surging demand and slower-than-average response times — the FDNY is adding units to help handle the load.

Two weeks ago, the FDNY took four EMS units from other parts of the city and relocated them to the Bronx.

The units were lifted from the Lower East Side in Manhattan, Carroll Gardens and Rockaway in Brooklyn, and Fort Totten in Queens, according to an internal memo obtained by the Daily News.

They were added to busy areas around the Bronx — places like Soundview, Morrisania and Morris Park — amid a wider reshuffling that saw some existing EMS units shifted across the borough.

On average, EMS handles about 300,000 incidents a year in the Bronx — but based on current numbers, it's on track to reach nearly 340,000 emergencies by 2016.

The sharp uptick is part of a larger, citywide pattern that is taxing EMS — even as Mayor de Blasio has pumped in an unprecedented amount of money to shore up the crumbling system.

De Blasio invested more than $40 million in more staff, more dispatchers and to upgrade glitchy technology installed during the Bloomberg era. That includes the city's public safety wireless network, known as NYCWiN, which had a rough rollout under Bloomberg that required multiple improvements to its connectivity. In March the city put it up for sale for $500 million.

The four units moved to the Bronx were from an additional 45 EMS tours added by de Blasio, who included funding for them in the most recent city budget.

"Every year for 18 of the past 20 years, we have seen an increase in demand," said FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon.

He cites the city's constantly expanding population as a primary reason for the increase of about 200,000 incidents per year.

"It raises questions about the future, about how we continue to grow ... whether we stay with this business model," he added.

In 2012, the city's EMS system handled 1.2 million emergencies citywide, and 1.3 million in 2013.

By the end of 2014, that number swelled by an additional 500,000.

In the same time span, the city's average response time also incrementally ticked up — from eight minutes 27 seconds in 2012 to nine minutes and 23 seconds in 2014. But at peak times and for calls deemed less urgent, response times can frequently be significantly longer, records show.

The city responds much more quickly — six minutes or less, on average — to the most critical calls, which include cardiac arrest and choking.

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