2008_06_ambul.jpgLast week, an 88-year-old collapsed in midtown Manhattan. And almost an hour after 911 was called, an ambluance appeared... from Staten Island.

Now the FDNY is investigating why exactly an ambulance so far away was dispatched. Police, who came to help the woman lying at East 55th Street and Lexington Avenue, called 911 at 3:24 p.m., and the ambulance arrived at 4:15 p.m. The Daily News explained what seems to have happened:

Because the woman was conscious when she fell, she was assigned a basic life support ambulance, a vehicle outfitted with less lifesaving equipment than an advanced life support unit.

But shortly before the incident, a dispatcher, realizing all of Manhattan's basic support ambulances were being used, requested that a Staten Island unit travel into Manhattan in case it was needed.

Moments later, another dispatcher assigned that ambulance to travel to midtown because the FDNY computer indicated it was in Manhattan - even though it actually was still on Staten Island, the source said.

The average response time is 6 minutes 31 seconds. A witness who stayed with the fall victim said, "I was horrified by the whole thing. All I could think of was, what if this was my mother and child?"

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum criticized the FDNY for not responding in a timely manner, "There is simply no excuse for having a near-90-year-old lying in the middle of the street for an hour." As for the fall victim, she is expected to recover.