Politician Starts Petition to Get Mt. Sinai to Turn Down Euro-Style Ambulance Siren Volume

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell is getting an earful from constituents about the sounds being emitted by Mt. Sinai hospital’s ambulances. And now he’s giving the hospital an earful too.

Mt. Sinai — which has locations at 114th and 59th Streets — has changed the sounds of its sirens to a more European-like noise. The hospital chain told WNYC that it was actually trying to be more neighborly and less aggressive.

But O’Donnell said the sirens are a nuisance, and that the hospital has had “little response” to his letters.

“While we understand that emergency vehicles should have the technology necessary to ensure quick response to emergencies, the volume increase and non-standard use of Mount Sinai’s sirens over the past year have become decidedly un-neighborly,” the petition says. It had received 21 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

The hospital did not respond to a request for comment.

NEWS | 97 comments | permalink
    1. Bill says:

      Can somone plse post a link to the petition? This has got to be addressed. Thanks.

    2. JC says:

      Where can I sign the petition???

    3. dannyboy says:

      Perhaps if drivers cooperated and pulled to the right…

      But not-so-much. I’d hate to be a heart attack victim in that ambulance.

    4. West Sider says:

      Link to petition has been added.

    5. your_neighbor says:

      I hear sirens all the time from my apartment and think the new siren sounds much less disturbing than the regular sirens but I guess people need something to complain about.

    6. sam says:

      God you people love to complain. This siren is no worse than the “American” siren, and if anything, it is actually less disturbing.

    7. The British Are Coming says:

      O’Donnell seems to be confusing ‘demagogue’ with ‘ambulance chaser’. From his perspective, the new sirens are a solution in need of a problem. One wonders if he has actually ever heard them.

      They are are actually much quieter and less ear-piercing inside apartments, where one should not have to listen to an ear-drum rupturing blast from ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles.

      I thougth to myself just the other day that the new sirens are a great improvement.

      Perhaps we should replace the ignorant pandering politicians instead? And what is ‘non-standard’ code for anyway?

    8. Mike M says:

      Yes, yes, yes. Sirens are over the top. I’ve seen ambulances stopped at red lights with sirens wailing! Mt Sinai is the worst, closely followed by Lennox. No need for this.

    9. dannyboy says:

      “Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell is getting an earful from constituents about the sounds being emitted by Mt. Sinai hospital’s ambulances…

      “Mount Sinai’s sirens over the past year have become decidedly un-neighborly,” the petition says. It had received 21 signatures as of Friday afternoon.”

      What entitlement, privilege and insensitivity.

      I can’t believe people can complain about the sirens offending their delicate ears over their neighbor (a person) possibly dying in the ambulance.

    10. Cordcutter says:

      What is there to complain about?
      Sure, the siren is loud when you’re standing at the street corner and it whizzes by you.

      I assume the decibel level is loud enough for those with their earbuds to hear and for drivers with their windows rolled up blasting music to hear as well.

      Better it’s loud to get people to pay attention than not, and potentially have another accident along the way.

    11. Neighbor says:

      I agree- I think the my Sinai sirens are less offensive but I guess people need to complain. We have real problems when we may be in the back of one.

    12. Bill says:

      @Sam … yes! Not only are they slightly more gentle than American sirens, they help you to discern an important difference. I live 2 blocks away from a very active fire station. In the middle of the night, if I hear an American fire siren getting closer and closer to me and then suddenly stopping, I might have some serious concern about my building or immediate neighborhood. If I hear a European siren doing the same, I might have a moment of sadness, but know that it does not pose any immediate danger to me.

    13. Ted says:

      The nerve of some people. They have a heart attack. They get shot. And they expect the whole city to stop so they can get to the hospital. Narcissism run amok. “Hey, look at me I’m important. I’ve got a siren”. Please just die quietly because I am trying to drink a latte here. I was on a conference call with my boss the other day getting my bonus number and I had to ask him to repeat it because of a siren. They should just yell at the uber driver to go faster like the rest of us.

    14. ben says:

      Don’t know what people are thinking these days. They’d be yelling for drivers to get out of the way and blaming the sirens not being loud enough when it’s their loved one in the ambulances.

    15. nycityny says:

      I like the European sounding sirens – it makes me feel like I’m on vacation in London.

      But anyway, isn’t a siren supposed to be noisy so as to allow the vehicle to move more quickly through traffic? Perhaps people would prefer that the driver just yell at cars to move out of his way…in a whisper so as not to disturb the “neighbors?”

    16. Jen says:

      The problem is not the siren, it’s the gross misuse of the siren. The Euro sound is used while the ambulance is parading up and down all avenues along the upper west side with no patient in it! It parades down Columbus, up Amsterdam, down Broadway, up West End and repeat all day! It’s disturbing to everyone schools, medical practices, nursing homes, and our neighbors! Shame on you Sinai

      • Mike says:

        Or,….it’s the ONE POINT EIGHT MILLION CALLS TO EMS ANNUALLY. Oh and by the way. Every ambulance with someone in it on the way to the hospital,…had no one in it on the way to get that person. That is why, often, when an ambulance has a patient in it. There are no lights or sirens. Because the cardiac arrest turned out to not be a cardiac arrest. And a routine, quiet trip to the hospital is the correct response.

      • Christine E says:

        The ambulance needs to get to the patient, who is having an emergency! Seriously, what is wrong with people. When I hear a siren, I am glad someone is getting help.

        • Overpopulated says:

          New York City is seriously overpopulated it makes sense that we don’t really need ambulances making this disgusting loud sound disturbing my power naps !!!!!
          At this point a little less people, please!!

      • George UWS says:

        Jen, do you have x-ray vision or clairvoyance that enables you to determine if an ambulance has a patient, and even if not, whether it is on a call to a patient? Or are you an “alternative fact” spouter?

      • Emily Miller says:

        If there’s no patient in the ambulance, is there any chance that the ambulance might be going to rescue someone? If you were having trouble breathing, would you prefer they not use the siren on the way to get you? An EMT would tell you that using the siren is often more important BEFORE the patient is in the “bus”.

      • Jen 1 says:

        Just making sure it is not “Original Jen”. The one who normally disagrees with Sherman. I don’t share the point of view with “New Jen”

      • EricaC says:

        That is not something I have ever observed. I have, however, observed ambulances trying to get through traffic while oblivious or narcissistic drivers sit and block them, and ambulances crossing red lights (where the loud siren is a life saver for other cars and those walking).

        This just doesn’t seem like a real problem to me.

      • sirens says:

        Really Jen?? How could you possibly know this?

    17. Tom says:

      I believe their “policy” is siren on full blast, from door to door, no matter the traffic. Can anyone confirm?

    18. ST says:

      The decibel levels are way out of proportion to what is needed. The siren can be heard a mile away. You can hear them all the time in our parks. People who don’t think turning the volume down is needed are probably on the phone most of the whole time.

    19. Harold Webb says:

      The noise has become a serious problem in the city without regard to the consequences,

    20. Susan says:

      I really appreciate Danny O’Donnell paying attention to this issue and trying to improve it. I live a couple of blocks south of Mt Sinai/St Luke’s. In the past 7 years that I have lived in my apartment, I have noticed some major changes. The first is the final approach route to the ER bay at St. Luke’s changed when the apartment tower was constructed on the northern portion of the Cathedral’ property bordering 113th directly across from the ER. Previously, ambulances went behind the Cathedral on Morningside Drive, along the Park to 113th to to get to the ER. Once the apartment building was going up, the route was changed (but became permanent) to all the way on Amsterdam Ave to 113th with sirens blaring every foot along the way to the ER entrance, even late at night when there is no traffic at all! Is that necessary when there are no cars on the road in the path of the ambulance? In addition to that change, the number of ambulances directed to St. Luke’s Hospital increased once Mt Sinai took it over. Combine that with volume of the sirens themselves, and it has really negatively impacted the quality of life especially for several blocks south of the hospital. We also have a fire station nearby on 113th west of Amsterdam — so that’s a lot of sirens. Why can’t the old route behind the Cathedral be reinstituted? No one lives behind the Cathedral! That would, at least, be an easy first step in addressing the problem in the immediate area of the hospital.

    21. Tim says:

      The irony of Mt Sinai using this horribly loud two tone siren, that they leave on for the whole trip versus turn on and off when needed, is that it’s awfully remiscent of the two tone siren used when people came after the Jews during World War Two. They should reconsider this as soon as possible.

    22. Carol says:

      Prefer the sound of this siren over the others.

      Anything is tolerable in the city, it’s a city. With the exception of private demolition garbage trucks.

      • dannyboy says:

        “Anything is tolerable in the city, it’s a city.

        “With the exception of private demolition garbage trucks.”

        I guess you got your exceptions. I got mine. Including loud and unlawful construction noise.

    23. bfg says:

      And how about those fire engine air horns?….

      Make it stop!!!!

      • dannyboy says:

        Do you understand the purpose of those fire engine air horns that you want stopped?

    24. EE_K says:

      Can he also start to tackle the buses that blast “caution bus is turning” that is audible all the way up on the 11th floor of my building?

      After all, he actually has a say over the MTA in theory.

    25. Joe says:

      This is a serious issue that is beyond quality of life (not to be dismissed flippantly as many do) but also is a health issue for the community. Those incensed by the idea of complaining when someone could be having a heart attack in the ambulance need to understand the issue. From my apartment I watch these ambulances all the time and can verify (no doubt other will too):

      1) They never travel faster than the traffic and so do not require cars to move out of the way (indeed, more often than not they move slower than traffic)

      2) They run sirens through green lights at the intersection when no traffic is obstructing them

      3) They run sirens at all hours even when there is absolutely no need (I’m an early riser and see them at 5am with no traffic still running their sirens…and still driving at a snails pace)

      4) I agree that there are many times also where idiot drivers do not understand to move out of the way. I don’t know the solution here beyond educating drivers and ticketing if need be. But barring sirens and horns is not working, I can very much assure you.

      The volume of these sirens (even the new European sounding ones, which are better in my opinion) is completely insane. You can hear these sirens throughout the neighborhood even when they are nowhere nearby.

      There is no doubt this is a health matter. When nearby, the decibel level is in the range that OSHA deems hazardous to hearing and can do permanent damage (https://www.emsworld.com/article/220850/hearing-loss-ems).

      Moreover, considerable research is also coming to realize that so-called nusaince noises like loud sirens raise the stress and anxiety levels throughout a community (https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/ct-loud-noises-heart-health-20180207-story.html).

      The city took noise seriously a number of years ago and passed several regulations. But unfortunately, they did not touch the biggest noise nuisance coming from sirens. Perhaps this petition will be the start of a more holistic approach to finding balance.

    26. Erica says:

      They are way louder than needed and sound just like the sirens used in Europe also used to round up people during the Holocaust. You don’t need to hear them a mile away.

    27. Diana Maull says:

      Where is the petition?

    28. E says:

      I prefer the newer Euro sirens and wish all the city ambulances adopted them, not just Mt. Sinai.

      They also have to be that loud, so cars blasting stereos and a/c with their windows up can hear them from a few blocks away so they can (ideally) start making a path, and so pedestrians who have their earbuds blasting music and are blissfully unaware don’t step out in front of them.

    29. Margaret E. says:

      I actually prefer the European up-and-down siren sound but they are way over-the-top LOUD!

    30. Carmenza Gallo says:

      Where can I sign the petition?

    31. John says:

      I think all the sirens are too loud for Manhattan streets which bounce the sound from adjacent buildings. Who wouldn’t hear them at 1/3 current volume? Same for fire engines.

    32. Judith Stadler says:

      I agree. These are the most horrible and annoying siren sounds i have ever heard. I think that the slow pace of the sounds is what contributes to the annoyance. I wush there was some wayy to get them to change!

    33. Peter Drummond says:

      Agree 100 pct.Unnecassary for ambulances to run their sirens when going through a green light.You can hear them from 5 blocks away in each direction.The ambulances seem to love to turn their sirens on at 3 – 4 AM when there is hardly any street traffic

    34. A. L. Berlin says:

      Yes. On W 57th & 9th Ave. horrible.
      Where do we sign?

      • GM says:

        Where do we sign?

      • Haloslipping says:

        To be directed to the petition, try clicking specifically on ‘the’ in the highlighted (hyperlinked) words ‘the petition’ near the end of the original story.

    35. Emily Miller says:

      1. Average response time for an ambulance arriving at the scene of a life-threatening emergency is 6 minutes and 43 seconds. It’s 9 minutes and 23 seconds for non-life-threatening emergencies.

      2. Nonprofit volunteer ambulance service Hatzolah uses 2 different sirens and an air horn at the same on all emergency calls. These sirens are deafening.

      3. FDNY ambulances can use a cacophony of sounds alternating between the four different tones of sirens that they have in each ambulance. It’s bad, but not as bad as Hatzolah’s multi-siren plus air horn.

      4. Mt. Sinai says it chose a different sound for their ambulances in an effort to make their sirens easier on the ear. Whether or not Mt Sinai’s new ”hi-lo” version works is a subjective opinion . Personally, I find it much less grating than the previous sound their ambulances made.

      5. Perhaps there should be a new rule requiring a lower decibel level for ambulances from midnight – 5am? Just a thought.

      6. Having been in an ambulance with my mother who was in the middle of a hemorrhagic stroke, I can assure you that they need a loud siren to get through traffic. If they have to get past traffic during the dismissal hour at Columbia Grammar, well, there is no siren loud enough for that. ,… But I digress.

    36. Jane Rosamilia says:

      The European style sIren is much easier on the ears than thE higher pitched one. I live on 96th Street, so I get A LOT of ambulances wailing down my street.
      Please keep the Lower pitched sirens!,

    37. Kathy says:

      I think that the European “hi/low” sound has been shown to get people’s attention better. Unfortunately, too many people/drivers don’t notice or ignore the sirens and won’t get out of the way. The volume issue is separate.

    38. Jonathan says:

      This wouldn’t be an issue if motorists, cab drivers, truck and bus drivers understood what to do when they hear a siren. Move over to the side as quickly as possible. Stop. Wait for the emergency vehicle to pass before moving.

    39. Just a person says:

      I really dislike the European sirens, they remind me of the WW2 era and the Holocaust. And I agree the volume could be turned down and I don’t believe it would materially effect the response time.

    40. Skye says:

      I prefer the European Sirens!

    41. Upperwestsidewally says:

      We are now living in a city where an (unscientific) survey shows that well over 65% of pedestrians are severely hearing-impaired.

      • dannyboy says:

        This is not an argument against sirens but, more accurately pointed at prolonged construction noise and earbuds.

    42. B.B. says:

      Mount Sinai, North Shore-LIJ (now known as Northwell), and New York Presbyterian all engage in various amounts of patient transport that usually takes place in evening/overnight hours.

      This is movement from say Lenox Hill’s “Saint Vincent’s” campus in West Village to their 77th street hospital. Or Beth Israel (what is left of it), to any of the Mount Sinai hospitals uptown. NYP will transport patients from their Beekman hospital downtown to either UES or uptown hospitals.

      With so many hospitals in Manhattan having closed over past few decades beds are often scarce. So places have to move patients about to find them a bed, and or make room in one place for more.

      Cannot recall if Beth Israel has fully closed yet, but if so then there is no full service hospital in Manhattan below 34th street (NYU) other than the small NYP Beekman hospital. Lenox Hill West Village is an urgent care facility with a few holding med/surg beds.

      Everything else is either mid-town east (Bellevue, NYU), or UES (Lenox Hill, New York Hospital/Cornell and Mount Sinai), or UWS (Mount Sinai Saint Luke’s and Roosevelt), and finally NYP in Morningside.

      Thus on any given evening those ambulances aren’t rushing to or from emergencies, but transporting patients. Hospital to hospital, hospital to nursing home/rehab, etc….

    43. B.B. says:

      To those complaining about these sirens being “too loud” and or surplus to what is required, think you forget just how many drivers and others have their ears plugged with various headphones or other devices.

      This and or people are in their own world while walking or driving as they are totally absorbed in whatever “tunes”, or conversation they are having thanks to their phone/tablet.

    44. Marie Jensen says:

      I like the new ambulance siren. I don’t think it’s excessive at all. Makes me feel right at home. I think O’Donnell has it all wrong. If he’s concerned about street noise levels, there are a lot more important things he might do.

      • dannyboy says:

        Agree. Prolonged loud noise requires a construction site. There’s your noise!

    45. say-moi says:

      This is European ?… I don’t think so!.. Only in Amerika!
      In Europe, they only turn the sirens on when it’s a serious emergency and the person’s life is at stake.

      • Upperwestsidewally says:

        Having been in many Dutch police cars (professionally!) and ambulances, I can assure you that sirens are frequently turned on for a food run as well as a organ transfer (that no one seems to consider). Who can tell the difference?

    46. Anon says:

      The new sirens are so much better, someone needs to do something about all the others which are clearly much louder, painful and unnecessary. Especially the fire trucks – there is absolutely no need to blast them at full volume and use the horns at 4am when no one is around.

    47. spenyc says:

      I haven’t read all the comments, so apologies if this duplicates information, but people might find it of interest that these types of sirens were invented in Europe post-WWII, because traditional sirens sounded like air raids and were thus extremely upsetting.

    48. Hannah says:

      No discussion of noise pollution is comprehensive without mention of automobile and truck horns. They are horrible. Except in the case of an emergency or a gentle nudge to the driver daydreaming ahead of you, they fill the air with anger and impatience. I contend there are two kinds of people in the world: honkers and nonhonkers. It is a character flaw. I see no solution. Yesterday I saw a man honking and throwing a tissue out of his car window. Again, two kinds of people. Sartre was right. Or was it Camus? “Hell is other people.”

      • dannyboy says:

        Sorry to hear of your discontent, but you misunderstood Satre to fit your own circumstances here.

        For Sartre, shame is the original feeling brought on by the realization of the existence of others.

        The Other is a scandal: the Other holds the power to freeze me into a being (vulgar, proud, shy, …) that I am not. The gaze of others exposes me, makes me weak and fragile, turns me into a subject.

        https://www.the-philosophy.com/sartre-hell-is-other-people

    49. Original Jen says:

      Is there a petition not to change the siren back? I would sign that one.

    50. Beate Echols says:

      This is NOT a European style ambulance sound. Not at all. I grew up in Europe and I am there right now but I have the misfortune of living in the UWS also known as ambulance hell thanks to Mt Sinai which has made our lives beyond miserable. I HATE Mount Sinai and I sincerely hope they go out of business. They took away my quality of life.

    51. woodcider says:

      That damned ambulance slowly trolls up and down Amsterdam and Broadway every day, all day. If it’s an emergency, fine. This thing is waiting at lights with the siren running for no discernible reason. It’s become a noise nuisance. I will gladly sign that petition.

    52. Joan Klein says:

      Yes. Please turn down the increased volume on Sinai’s siren.!!!

    53. In the early morning hours with few cars on the road the sirens scream at full force. Please inform us how we can join the petition. The noise is maddening Get some people on the street with the petition I’m sure you’ll get hundreds of signatures.

    54. Leonard Levine says:

      There should be no need to have their sirens blaring when the ambulance is empty. It is becoming impossible to have some decent quality of life on west End Ave

    55. Celia302 says:

      Thank you Mr O’Donnell. The volume on their ambulances is ear splitting. Please share the link!

    56. Annoyed says:

      They are trolling for customers – going though all red lights up West End and down Broadway at a steady pace – day in and day out hoping to be the first one “there” when a call goes out. It’s all about business.

      • More "Truthiness" Please !! says:

        And where are your FACTS to prove this ridiculous assertion….or is this just another example of this era’s Alternate Facts???

        Sure, you’re entitled to your OPINION, but how’s about labeling with “I.M.H.O.”

    57. marcy katz says:

      are you kidding me??? We are from Hawaii for part of the year and have to cover our ears from the pain of the loud and constant blair of our ambulance noise. We were so proud of you new yorkers for doing the sane thing to affect change to the euro sound. we’ve experienced the Mt. sinai sound and it’s music to our ears compared to Hawaii. come on, complain about the dog poop and urine stained sidewalks instead

    58. Sean says:

      Factor in aging ears on the UWS.

    59. Stephanie says:

      The sirens are awful, sends chills through anyone’s spine as a connection to the Holocaust.

    60. LKLA says:

      I doubt anything will come of it – common sense is rare thing these days.

      The so called euro-style sirens are by the far the most annoying/intrusive/toxic of all sirens. But, there is no reason a siren – of any kind – needs to be heard 14 stories up (with the windows closed) or 8-10 blocks away.

      9 out of 10 times it seems the ambulances are neither in a rush or carrying a patient. It makes one wonder if they turn on the siren for kicks!

    61. Ken says:

      Most all of you are missing the problem here: We’re not talking about emergency sirens. This ambulance slowly cruises the UWS all day & night at low speed. It’s slow-motion advertising-by-noise, people!

      • LKLA says:

        Exactly!

        Like I said, nine out of ten times it seems clear that the ambulance is neither rushing to someone or rushing to the hospital. They are instead cruising around, likely trying to annoy everyone on purpose.

        • Bond...James Bond! says:

          Re: “likely trying to annoy everyone on purpose.”

          Oh, definitely!

          Now that you’ve “proven” this non-fact, next step: be sure to reinforce your tin-foil hat AND tin-foil umbrella! Those helicopters going up and down the Hudson? NOT TOURIST HELICOPTERS!!

          They’re obviously the nefarious “Black Helicopters” spying on us and recording our every thought.

    62. Gabriel says:

      Statiscally, ambulances get to a hospital two minutes faster using sirens than without? with EMTs on board is it safer ?

    63. MTS says:

      JUST SO YOU ALL KNOW…

      There was a bill introduced that would require all NYC emergency vehicles to change their sirens to the new 2-toned type (including police, fire, etc).

      I live in lower west Harlem and have been plagued by the new Mt Sinai sirens since they were changed to the 2-toned system which to my ears is far more jarring and invasive– and seems much louder than any other type of siren.

      It’s so piercing that it routinely wakes me from a dead sleep (in a rear bedroom with the door closed), which never happened with any other siren used in the city.

      I don’t see how it would endanger a patient to lower the volume slightly or go back to using the old sirens. Any vehicle or pedestrian that might be in the way would hear it perfectly well.

      I’m a lifelong NYer who is used to hearing sirens day and night and this is the only one that affects me like this.

      It would be nightmarish to have all NYC emergency service vehicles using this type of siren.

      I do find it interesting that opinions vary so widely on this. Clearly, one’s response to types of noise and volume is subjective, but I can’t imagine anyone preferring the new 2-toned siren. Just my opinion of course.

      I’ve signed the petition– and I emailed the sponsors of this bill back in March, asking them not to go forward with it. I also sent all of this info to the WSR at the time since I noticed a bunch of random reader comments here and there bemoaning the sirens. Got no response from the WSR or city council members, but… hey… I put my 2 cents in as a proud and unrepentant alte kaker.

      Alte kakers unite!!

      The bill:

      https://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3860385&GUID=63E2CE64-BFA3-45AD-A79F-2E579D003BB9&Options=&Search=

      Sponsors of the bill: Helen K. Rosenthal, Carlina Rivera

      Hrosenthal@council.nyc.gov

      Crivera2@council.nyc.gov

      FYI:

      The fleet that currently uses this 2-toned siren operates from four hospital sites in Manhattan, Mount Sinai Hospital, the flagship campus, at Madison Avenue on East 100th Street; Mount Sinai West, at 1000 Tenth Avenue at 59th Street; Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, on 1111 Amsterdam Avenue at 113th Street; and Mount Sinai Beth Israel, on First Avenue at 16th Street.

      • Ye Olde Englishe Teachere says:

        Re: “Hrosenthal@council.nyc.gov”

        Has anyone else noticed that, by transposing just the “R” with the “O”, Hrosenthal becomes…..ta-daaaa: Horsenthal 😳😂🤪

        Years ago there was a great PBS kids’ program entitled “LetterMan”: a sorta-super-hero who, by changing or adding/subtracting letters, made a new word, for ex: Rabbit would become Rabbi, or vice-versa!

    64. Marilynn says:

      I don’t think people are complaining too much about this. I live near 114th street and the sirens are going full force at 3am when there isn’t a person on the street. I’m sure I’m not the only person who wakes up.