A Port Authority Police Department medical unit that has provided free, immediate care to injured travelers at Kennedy Airport is about to be replaced by a unit operating out of a local hospital — a move critics call “shortsighted and lacking common sense.”
The Port Authority plans to disband the unit within a month to reduce costs and repurpose the cops who were on the medical unit “to their core mission,” Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said.
“We believe this will provide better medical coverage to passengers than the existing system we have in place,” Coleman added.
The medical unit is the only one of its kind. Other airports run by the Port Authority rely on ambulances from local EMS units or nearby hospitals to provide immediate care.
The Port Authority runs one of its two ambulances each day to provide basic life support at Kennedy, which spans 15 miles.
The unit doesn’t charge for the care or transports it provides, saving patients about $1,500 in medical costs, supporters of the program say.
“The Port Authority, once again attempting to sacrifice public safety in favor of cost-cutting, wants to pass the cost of emergency medical care to the sick and injured people in need of that care,” said Paul Nunziato, the president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association.
Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) said that Port Authority cops will still be tied up running to medical calls since they would have to escort Jamaica Hospital ambulances into restricted areas.
“(This proposal) is shortsighted and lacking in common sense,” Weprin said in a letter to Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton.