NEW YORK - It's a common sight in the city - ambulances with flashing lights and wailing sirens trying to weave through congested streets.
Traffic poses challenges to emergency medical technicians rushing to save lives.
To improve response times, EMTs in some cities, like San Diego, use scooters get around faster. City Councilman Joe Borelli of Staten Island wants the FDNY to test the use of scooters in New York.
"We know that minutes and seconds do matter and it's not always safe to wait for an ambulance who might be stuck in some traffic in gridlocked streets," Borelli says.
Scooters, he adds, would be especially useful in Manhattan, where security bollards and barricades create additional obstacles for first responders.
"Having these vehicles that can navigate those is just something that can make the FDNY response time to medical emergencies much quicker," Borelli says.
The FDNY says it is open to using scooters, and is thinking about testing three-wheeled segways, too.
"We like the concept of a smaller vehicle, it has the third wheel for additional stability, I like the fact that we can use it indoors, so we're looking at places like Grand Central Station, airports, special events. We also like that they can be charged just about anywhere, just plugged in. and we believe it will definitely increase someone getting to the patient quickly," says FDNY Deputy EMS Chief Alvin Suriel.
The FDNY already uses special mini off-road-style vehicles called ASAPs, short for Alternative Support Apparatus, in Times Square. Each vehicle has a fullly enclosed patient compartment with space for a cot and seating for two attendants and a driver.
But Thomas Currao, the chief of counterterrorism and emergency preparedness, cautions the idea of using scooters is still preliminary.
"The Fire Department is at the very early stages of this exploration," Currao said.
The department says it is not convinced a new law requiring the FDNY to test motorized scooters is necessary.