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Quinn Defends Call to Ray Kelly to Get Help for Heat-Stricken Intern

By Colby Hamilton | July 17, 2013 7:11pm | Updated on July 17, 2013 8:02pm
 City Council Member Diana Reyna fans Yvette Doro, 18, alongside Christine Quinn on July 16 2013.
City Council Member Diana Reyna fans Yvette Doro, 18, alongside Christine Quinn on July 16 2013.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Bekiempis

CITY HALL — If you’re ever in an emergency situation, pray that Christine Quinn is nearby.

The City Council speaker and mayoral hopeful defended her decision use her power to summon an ambulance to help an intern who was suffering from heat exhaustion — despite the fact that the system was slammed with other calls.

Quinn said that in no way did she request special treatment during those calls or several calls to 911 in Williamsburg Tuesday when intern Yvette Toro, 18, who works for Councilwoman Diana Reyna, collapsed during a press conference and an ambulance took 30 minutes to respond.

“[M]y job is to help protect New Yorkers," Quinn said.  "And I was there with a young woman who needed help."

"And you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to use the resources of my office and my position to push every time I see a New Yorker in need.”

Fire officials said the delay was due to the fact that all of the ambulances in the area were occupied, and that the injury was not severe.

In the wake of her complaints about the incident, six additional reserve ambulances were dispatched Wednesday on top of the 14 already in service, Quinn said.

Quinn and her staff dialed 911 immediately after Toro's collapse. After waiting 10 minutes, they began working the phones, calling the mayor’s office, Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, the local precinct and even Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly during a 30-minute wait for help in 94-degree heat, they said.

Ultimately, Toro was taken to the hospital by the private Hatzolah ambulance service and treated and released.

Still, Quinn said she’s unsure whether her calls to Cassano and Kelly ultimately did anything to help.

“A lot of things all began happening at once,” she said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall Wednesday. “I can’t tell you which one thing it was but all of those things should not have had to happen is the bottom line.”

According to FDNY spokeswoman Elisheva Zakheim, all of the available ambulances in the area were occupied at the time of the 11:51 a.m. call.

“Every one of the 14 Basic Life Support ambulances in the operational area including Greenpoint and Williamsburg was engaged in responding to calls, including a respiratory arrest and cardiac incident," Zakheim said in a statement.

Basic life support ambulances are usually assigned to less serious cases, but, with no additional ambulances available, Zakheim said they were assigned to the more urgent cases.

Earlier, the FDNY said that Toro's call was initially not assigned a high priority because she was "breathing, alert and communicating." After Quinn's calls, the call was given a more urgent priority level.

In addition, during the wait for an ambulance, Toro was being tended to by a police officer and member of Quinn's security detail who was a trained EMT, Quinn said.

“It was a serious situation," Quinn said of Toro. "It ended up being not a devastating situation.”