Central Park Medical Unit seeks donations after fire destroys ambulances

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Tim Fleischer reports the ambulances were used to respond to emergencies in Central Park. (WABC)

A volunteer ambulance squad that responds to emergencies in Central Park is fundraising after an early-morning fire destroyed two of its three vehicles.

The fire, at 143 West 108th Street, left the ambulances burned out and totaled. Dozens of other vehicles in the five-story parking garage were also damaged. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

The Central Park Medical Unit responds to about 1,000 emergencies a year in the park, mostly on weekends and at events like the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"It's a terrible situation," president Rafael Castellanos said. "We have a total of three ambulances, and to have two of them out of commission is just a horror."

Firefighters battled clouds of dense smoke as they fought the stubborn fire, the cause of which has not yet been determined.

They are now seeking donations to replace both vehicles so they can continue to provide life-saving and free emergency response services.

Officials say that the vehicles are insured for their original purchase price, but that current costs outweigh the amount they will recover.

"You are looking at anywhere between $150,000 and $200,000, all said and done, with the vehicle and all of the equipment inside," Castellanos said. "They're a little bit shorter than a standard side ambulance, and that's what makes part of our response so special."

Largely reliant on private donations, the not-for-profit group of 150 volunteers is hoping the fund raising will help speed up the process of replacing the units.

"We would like to be back on our feet as soon as we can," Castellanos said. "We will be back on our feet as soon as humanly possible. we would just like to accelerate that."

For more information or to make a donation, visit CPMU.com. Learn more about the Central Park Medical Unit on their Facebook page.

Related Topics:
fireambulancecentral parkNew York CityUpper West Side
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