Freedom of Information Law & Other Records Requests

I care about government transparency, open data, you know, that sort of thing. Now I have a Muckrock account, but here I gather the requests I've made outside Muckrock, and responses to them.

Table of Contents:

Automated External Defibrillators and Public Access Defibrillation

I'm particularly interested in automated external defibrillators and Public Access Defibrillation in New York City and New York State. My local Public Access Defibrillation registry is held by the Fire Department of New York and/or New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in coordination with NYC's Regional Emergency Medical Services Council (NYC REMSCO).


AEDs save lives, especially when they're widely available in public places. There are various programs and laws in New York City & New York State either encouraging or requiring buildings/businesses/locations to have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) available for public use.

New York City Council bill number 0211-2004 was enacted as Local Law No. 20 for the year 2005 (amending Chapter I of Title 17 of the New York City Administrative Code to add a new section § 17-188), mandating AEDs in some public places. (You can navigate to this law in the New York State law search, which includes the NYC Administrative Code; here's a less official Justia link.)

Per the New York State Department of Health advisory on Public Access Defibrillation, each regional emergency medical services council holds a PAD registry. In New York City, that is NYC REMSCO. The REMSCO shares this with 911 operators, who, in case of cardiac arrest, can advise callers if there's a PAD at the address they're calling from.

The last publicly published map of PAD locations in New York City was in 2006, in a one-year-later report after Local Law 20 was enacted in 2005. Per that report, NYC REMSCO has "an online registration system intended to facilitate registration, reduce paperwork, and improve the scope and accuracy of future reporting to City Council", and this was developed in coordination with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports

New York City Administrative Code § 17-188 (added in 2005 per Local Law 20) includes a "Reports" requirement:

d. Reports. The department shall conduct a comprehensive study and submit a report to the mayor and the council twelve months after the effective date of the local law that added this section. Such report shall include, but not be limited to, the quantities and locations of automated external defibrillators placed in public places pursuant to subdivision b of this section and the identification of any additional locations throughout the city of New York that warrant the placement of automated external defibrillators. Twenty-four months after the effective date of the local law that added this section, and annually thereafter for the next succeeding three years, the department shall submit to the mayor and the council a report indicating the quantities and locations of automated external defibrillators placed in public places pursuant to subdivision b of this section.

So, on September 21, 2017, I filled out the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website contact form:

May I please have copies of followup reports that the department submitted to the mayor and council, pursuant to the 2005 City Council law Int 0211-2004 regarding the quantities and locations of AEDs at certain public places? I see the first report at but cannot find the subsequent ones.

Thank you.

This became "City of New York - CRM Correspondence Number 1-1-1464141230". I received an email response from a Correspondence Coordinator at the DOHMH on October 10, 2017. It was a reply to "Your correspondence to NYC DOHMH, IQ# 806483, regarding AED reports" and said, "Attached are the reports that were required pursuant to LL20-2005." ("LL20-2005" means Local Law No. 20 for the year 2005.) The email included the four additional followup reports as attachments:

NY Department of Health PAD reports

The New York State Department of Health has a Bureau of Emergency Medical Services. Bureau of EMS Policy Statement 09-03 on Public Access Defibrillation says that "Each REMSCO is responsible for receiving and maintaining" certain kinds of documentation, and says:

The REMSCOs must develop and implement the following policies and procedures:

...Provide detailed quarterly reports to the DOH on PAD programs in the region

So I called the New York State Department of Health on February 2 2017, spoke with a staffer, and then followed up with an email requesting those reports:

I'm requesting copies of the quarterly reports that New York's REMSCOs have submitted to DOH on PAD programs, between the implementation of Bureau of EMS's Policy Statement 07-04 in 2007 and now. (I can't find a copy of the 2006 statement 06-03 which it superseded; if 06-03 also mandated the submitting of those quarterly reports, then I'd also like copies of the reports starting in 2006.)

This was classified as a Freedom of Information Law request. I then spoke with the Department of Health by phone on February 23rd to discuss the scope and difficulty of my original request. I followed up with an email that day:

Thank you for calling me today and for helping me speak with [staffer names] about my records request (original request copied below for reference). I appreciate your department's help as I research the growth of PAD across New York State historically and up to the present. Below is my modified FOIL request, and two requests that are not for records.

Thank you for helping me understand the amount of work it would take you to extract the PAD reports from the quarterly reports, dating back to 2007, that each Regional EMS Council sends to the Department of Health. Since not all the quarterly reports submitted by REMSCOs include data that I am particularly hoping for, such as the numbers of active collaborative agreements, narrowing the scope of my request makes sense.

I also learned from our call that it's convenient for you to pull a live statewide report from your mainframe that provides a detailed overview and geographic/provider type breakdown of the PAD program, based on the copies of new and updated Notices of Intent (DOH 4135) that the REMSCOs forward to you. I recognize that your "one-button" reporting interface to your mainframe does not easily allow you to query it regarding the past, e.g., "what was the status of the PAD program on a particular past date".

We also discussed the major change that occurred in the Laws of 2004 (mandating AEDs in all New York state buildings by March 31, 2010), and discussed how I should account for that in my research.

Thank you for this context.

Here is my modified request:

1) I request a copy of the "one-button" statewide report on New York State's PAD program, as drawn from your mainframe.

2) I request a copy of the 2006 Bureau of EMS Policy Statement 06-03, on public access defibrillation, which superseded the initial 1998 Bureau of EMS Policy Statement 98-10 on public access defibrillation, and which was superseded by policy 07-04 on September 27, 2007.

3) I request copies of the quarterly reports that New York's REMSCOs have submitted to DOH on PAD programs within the last 365 days. Given that there are eighteen REMSCOs listed at I anticipate that this would result in about 72 documents (perhaps slightly fewer if some agencies have changed reporting calendars over the course of the year).

4) I request a copy of the list of enrollees in a PAD program that the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (BEMS) provided to the Department (likely to Timothy Shay) in 2013 pursuant to a question from the State Camp Safety Advisory Council, per the meeting minutes of April 24, 2013 and October 30, 2013 (link: and

5) I request a copy of a Department of Health ad hoc report or study, department annual report, newsletter or memorandum that mentions the total number of AED units available via the state's PAD program, or the number of PAD program enrollees, at any point from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2003. I recognize that this could potentially be a search resulting in an enormous number of documents; a single document from that time period would be sufficient for my purposes. If this search is too burdensome for you to carry out, please let me know and I can try to figure out how to aid in reducing the burden.

Ideally I would prefer electronic copies of the reports emailed to me, but if that isn't possible then I am happy to help figure out a mutually convenient method of transfer.

In addition, during our call, you mentioned that you would be happy to introduce me to several regional EMS councils that are likely to have the capacity to easily provide requested PAD data, such as (for example) Central New York REMSCO and North Country REMSCO, and ask them to help me with this research. I recall that one of you suggested that a sample size of about five REMSCOs would make sense. I appreciate any introductions you can provide, and would particularly appreciate an introduction to New York City REMSCO.

Also: My understanding is that your one-button report does not indicate when new or updated Notices of Intent were entered, and thus cannot help provide insight into changes over time. If it is not too much trouble for you to check whether *the mainframe itself* (separate from your reporting dashboard) keeps track of the dates of new and updated notices, I would welcome that infomation; as a programmer I might be able to suggest a manual query that would provide me with data that would help me.

Thank you again; please feel free to reply or call to clarify or further discuss any aspect of this request.

I received a reply on February 27th:
After looking at the current contract deliverables again, neither Regional EMS Councils nor the Regional EMS Program Agencies are required to submit PAD quarterly reports.

Please modify your request accordingly.

As was mentioned during our phone call of Thursday 2/24/17, it is strongly recommended that you partner with several of our Regional EMS Program Agency contractors Statewide to obtain local/regional PAD data. We hold that they will be an asset to you with your project and we would be willing and able to provide solid contact information for the contractors.

With regard to the other parts of your FOIL request, they are being worked on.

I didn't reply to modify my request (my own fault there) and received a response on March 15th 2017 with the following documents:

Driving School Licensure in New York State

(adapted from my August 7th 2018 blog post)

I decided to get some lessons from a driving school. I saw one in my area advertises itself as registered with New York State Department of Motor Vehicles as a driving school, and thought I may as well do my due diligence and check the accuracy of that claim.

Well, New York State DMV does regulate and certify driving schools and driving instructors; a driving school needs a license to sell instruction, which involves many requirements and forms.

But NYS DMV does not publish a list of driving school licensees. The NYS DMV provides a DMV-Regulated Facilities search on its site, for car repair shops, auto dealers, etc., but that does not include licensed driving schools. And the site lists providers of the in-classroom Point and Insurance Reduction Program (PIRP), in case you seek that. But I wanted behind-the-wheel lessons, not PIRP.

Short-term solution which I found and used in 2018: you can call the NYS DMV's Bureau of Driver Training Programs (DTP) at (518) 473-7174, and ask them about a specific driving school (name and address), and they can verify whether it's licensed, and how long it's been licensed.

Long-term solution: on August 7th 2018 I filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the list of licensed driving schools (FOIL request numbered 2018-2053), which they fulfilled on January 28th 2019, so you can now look up individual schools on that list (about 600 licensees).

And I nominated that list in a dataset for New York's Open Data portal, also on August 7th 2018.

Sumana's journal

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