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FDNY Rejects Eight Free Motorcycles for EMS

NEW YORK -- It seems like a no- brainer: Equip the Emergency Medical Service with motorcycles to weave through the city s notorious traffic jams and cut response times to life-threatening emergencies.

But after six months of study, the FDNY still hasn t taken up an offer of eight free Harley-Davidsons secured by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum for a six-month pilot project.

The Fire Department thinks that using the motorcycles for EMS would be unsafe, said one source.

It s not clear why, since fire officials refuse to explain their reservations other than to say, The proposal is still under review.

Motorcycles have shown their worth in medical emergencies in Florida and elsewhere. The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue service reported reaching critical emergencies in an average of 2.83 minutes, a 60 percent improvement, after the cycles were introduced in 2004.

Here in the city, it took ambulances an average of 5.14 minutes last month to get to the most serious calls.

Kent Aarosen, a Manhattan resident who proposed the idea to Gotbaum after seeing EMS cycles in action in London, said he s baffled by the FDNY s inaction.

What we have in this program is reduced response times, increased patient survivability and increased access to early defibrillation during heart attacks, he said.

Aarosen conceded that the bikes might not work in the winter, so he suggested the pilot be conducted from April through September.

If the FDNY keeps resisting, he said he might take the deal to the Port Authority or other jurisdictions.

One agency that doesn t need convincing about the value of motorcycles to get around traffic is the NYPD.

While the Fire Department considers whether to accept the Harleys, the Police Department is preparing to spend nearly $1 million to buy a fleet of them.

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