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Emergency Medical Services 

The Growth of Emergency Medical Services

The FDNY put its first ambulance in service in 1906. But it wasn’t for people, it was for horses! That changed in 1914 when an ambulance was purchased to transport firefighters. It was assigned to respond to all third-alarm fires, where an aid station would be set up to treat any injured members. But this ambulance did not respond to emergencies out in the general public and no civilians were transported; the ambulance was used only for FDNY members.


The FDNY had a total of four ambulances in service at any one time and, again, all were used to transport firefighters.  However, they were not just used at fires, members of the FDNY who needed transportation due to medical necessity would also be able to access the ambulances.


FDNY Ambulance (circa 1924).

This all changed on March 17, 1996 when NYC Emergency Medical Services, then a separate municipal agency, was merged into the FDNY. The old FDNY ambulances for members only, were retired as part of this merger. It also meant that the FDNY was now the principal agency providing emergency ambulance services as well as being the coordinating agency for ambulance deployed by hospitals as part of the 9-1-1 system.


FDNY also created a path for members of EMS Operations to convert to Fire Operations by means of a promotional examination. Now, EMTs and Paramedics can become Firefighters while remaining employed by the same agency.


As part of this merger, FDNY also established EMS training capabilities at its Fort Totten facilities. Classes taught include Certified First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, and Paramedic. EMS instructors also work closely with the FDNY Foundation, to provide CPR training for the general public. At the present time, FDNY has 458 ambulance vehicles staffed by approximately 4,300 personnel.


FDNY EMS Ambulance (circa 2020).

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