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When an ambulance is needed in New York City, it might come from the New York City Fire Department EMS services or one of the hospitals that participate in their dispatch system. Or, particularly in an underserved community, it might come from one of the dozens of volunteer ambulance agencies spread across the city’s five boroughs. Volunteer ambulance agencies also offer free non-emergency services that other ambulances do not, including transport to the hospital or a doctor’s appointment for people who cannot use standard transportation options.

To help New York City's volunteer ambulance agencies operate as efficiently and effectively as possible in responding to the medical needs of the communities they serve, the nonprofit EMS Access provides technical assistance on best practices in organizational structure and management, leadership, and finances.

A five-year Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) grant has supported operations at EMS Access to help ensure that communities are served by well-run and capably led local organizations.

Through the grant, volunteer emergency medical services leaders gather annually at the EMS Access Summit, open to all EMS volunteer agencies in New York City, to connect, share operational experience, and offer mutual support. EMS Access and members of the attending organizations offer practical advice on everything from field-specific bookkeeping methods to volunteer retention to leadership development.

Through the Summit and its other activities, EMS Access is spearheading a response to challenges of chronic underfunding and understaffing that have dogged volunteer ambulance agencies, particularly since the pandemic, equipping them to better serve communities in need.