Bral denies rumor of proposal to switch village EMS provider

Joe Nikic

Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral denied rumors Tuesday that the village had a proposal to switch its EMS provider from the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company to Northwell Health.

At Tuesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting, Bral said it was the village’s “fiduciary obligation” to seek the “best possible services” for residents.

“There has been no proposal on the table for any of the villages from Northwell,” he said. “I don’t know whose going out there and saying there’s a proposal.”

Last week, Vigilant Fire Company officials called for mayors on the peninsula to hold a public hearing to discuss potential proposals by Northwell to provide Great Neck with ambulance services.

In October, members of the fire company voted to authorize the board to consider billing residents’ insurance for ambulance services after receiving requests from the village mayors.

Bral said four months ago, the village mayors met with Northwell officials, who gave them a presentation on the ambulance services they provide and different scenarios, but they have not been in contact with the health care provider since then.

About 80 residents attended Tuesday’s meeting, many of which urged the board to remain contracted with Vigilant for ambulance service.

Resident Judy Rosenthal said other communities “would kill” to receive the service that residents sometimes “take for granted.”

“For 80 years village residents have been receiving extraordinarily responsive, personalized ambulance services when they are at their most vulnerable,” Rosenthal said. “The Vigilant team demonstrates exemplary acts of courage going beyond the call of duty every day because this is the place they call home.”

Ron Campbell, a Great Neck resident, said several years ago, a school bus accident required 15 ambulances to take 15 children to the hospital. He questioned if Northwell would be able to provide that type of service in critical situations.

“Is Northwell prepared to do that in five minutes? Can they do that?” Campbell asked. “In a mass incident, is Northwell going to get what we need? You’re talking dollars and cents, I’m talking lives and property.”

Bral said even if there were cost savings that could be found with a different EMS provider, he would not sign off on anything would put residents’ lives at risk.

“I don’t think that any of us, neither I or other mayors, will ever do anything that is going to decrease care or decrease service and increase response time,” he said. “That is definitely not our intention and there is no money that we can save that is going to be worth anybody’s life or anybody getting hurt.”

Vigilant Fire Company Chief Josh Forst said the fire company sent the village mayors two letters, one by regular mail and the other by certified mail, asking them if they would “stick” with Vigilant if it agreed to bill residents’ insurances for ambulance services, but none of them responded.

Forst also noted that while the village was paying Vigilant at the “right rate,” it had not yet signed the contract between the two “in months.” The Village of Great Neck pays $256,147 annually to Vigilant for services.

Bral said the contract was not yet signed as discussions were still ongoing, but when a decision on the contract is made, it would be on the agenda for a board meeting in the “near future.”

He said he was “grateful” for the number of residents showing concern with things going on at the village, but reiterated that he would not support any proposal that would put resident lives at risk.

“I will not sign any proposal that will decrease services to this community,” Bral said.

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Joe Nikic

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