Emer­gency re­sponse crit­i­cised af­ter NY snow­storm

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

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

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