Emergency response criticised after NY snowstorm
NEW YORK: New York City's emergency response system dealt with a staggering number of calls in the aftermath of a post-Christmas blizzard, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested that New Yorkers themselves shared some of the blame.
Under fire for what some perceived as the city's sluggish response to the blizzard that dropped 20 inches of snow on the city and surrounding area, Bloomberg deflected some of the criticism. "We asked the public to do two things," Bloomberg said. "Don't call 911 unless it was a serious emergency ... And don't drive.
New York City operators fielded 49,478 calls to 911 on Monday, the day after the storm. That total was the sixth highest in any day since the city began keeping statistics. There were 38,000 calls on Tuesday. Some of the calls came from the same location, but it's not clear how many.
Many of the calls were not for emergencies, and plows couldn't clear the way for ambulances because streets were clogged with abandoned vehicles. "Your car stuck in the middle of the road made things worse," Bloomberg said.
In some instances, it took hours to respond to requests for help. The FDNY said additional ambulances were on the road and extra firefighters were working, but it wasn't enough to handle the call load, which was backlogged by 1,300 at one point. Among the calls was a Brooklyn woman who called 911 several times on Monday to report she was in labor. She delivered a baby that was unconscious and later pronounced dead.
Initially, dispatchers assigned the call a low priority because the expectant mother hadn't reported that either she or the baby were in distress, and her delivery was not believed to be imminent. Dispatchers called back several times to check in on the woman, and when a call came in that the newborn was unconscious, the priority was upgraded and EMS workers responded 12 minutes later. The infant was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner will determine a cause of death. On Wednesday, as stories began to surface about people who may have suffered serious medical problems while waiting for ambulances, the mayor was his most apologetic, without actually apologizing. -Ap
BOGOTA: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (C) delivers a speech as Police General Cesar Pinzon (L-R) Colombia's Defence Minister Rodrigo Rivera, Air Force Commander Julio Gonzalez and Police Chief Oscar Naranjo look on. -Reuters