NEW YORK (PIX11) – In the middle of a heat wave, and as the city remains under a heat advisory, a morning press conference came to an abrupt end after an 18-year-old intern with Councilwoman Diana Reyna’s office collapsed, apparently of heat stroke.
Christine Quinn was also there, and her staffers and several others called 911 immediately — but it took nearly 30 minutes for help to arrive.
“I don’t know what in God’s name would have taken an ambulance this long to help this young girl, but you can rest assured I’m going to find out because this is just not acceptable,” said Quinn.
An outraged Quinn vowed to get to the bottom of what happened, but PIX11 is told, through union officials, this is all due to a problematic FDNY policy. Union sources said the call was labeled as low priority when it came in at 11:52am as an injury.
But with no ambulance to send out for a low priority, the call was apparently held.
While the call was held, a fuming Quinn decided to call Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on his private line. That’s when union sources say the ball got rolling.
Kelly called Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano and Cassano himself, at 12:13 p.m., called in. An ambulance was dispatched at 12:15 to arrive in Brooklyn 12:23. A total of 31 minutes after the initial call.
“Whatever the cause or causes are, it is going to get fixed,” said Quinn.
Stacks of complaints have piled up regarding delay after delay for not only EMTs, but for fire calls as well.
Jim McGowan with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association said they are anywhere from 1 minute to, just two days ago, a 13-minute delay. In many cases, police dispatchers are getting addresses wrong altogether.
On the 14th, a 13-minute delay resulted because a dispatcher sent firefighters and officers to Avenue X in Brooklyn, when instead they should have been heading to Malcolm X Boulevard.
“I’m worried about the fire fighters, fire officers and most importantly the public also,” said McGowan.
The FDNY issued the following statement:
“The call was appropriately tagged as not being a high-priority, life-threatening call. Additionally, some ambulances are kept strictly in reserve for life-threatening calls, allowing for them to arrive in minutes, and they are not dispatched to lower priority incidents so they are not occupied when a life-threatening call comes in.”
They added that a police officer who was present was a trained EMT, and said he was attending to the young woman.