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FDNY Opens Washington Heights EMS Station

By Nigel Chiwaya | January 7, 2013 3:23pm

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Fire department officials opened up a new EMS station in the neighborhood Monday morning, which the department says will help decrease response time for medical emergencies.

The FDNY unveiled EMS Station 13, located at 172nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, at a ribbon cutting ceremony, during which fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano spoke of the importance of getting a station in what he called one of the FDNY's busiest neighborhoods.

"For over 16 years we've wanted an EMS station up here in Washington Heights," Cassano said. "Today I'm proud to say this community is safer and better off because of this new station and because of the caliber of the people who will call it home."

Prior to the opening of the station, emergencies in the area were handled by the EMS station at Harlem Hospital on 136th Street and 5th Avenue, officials said.

"It created obvious delays in things like resupply, tour changes, things like that," said Captain Richard Chatterton, the head of the new station. "There was a great lag in service up here which is alleviated just by the fact that we're on the corner now."

The station, which required $1.4 million to complete, will feature 17 ambulance tours each day.

The EMS station caused a dust-up last summer, when Uptown leaders complained that the land it was built on would be better served as affordable housing.

City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who attended the ribbon-cutting, welcomed the station Monday, but stressed that the location was temporary. In a statement, Rodriguez said that he would push for a permanent solution that would combine an EMS station on the first floor and affordable housing on the floors above.

"This would make permanent the FDNY EMS facility, providing the Washington Heights community with a valuable and needed service, while ensuring that the greatest need of the community is also met—affordable housing to our residents being forced out with high rents," Rodriguez said.