As if the family of Ariel Russo didn't have enough to be upset about. The four-year-old girl was killed when an unlicensed teen driver jumped an Upper West Side curb and pinned the child and her grandmother, as they were walking to her pre-school. Today's news is a 911 dispatcher didn't see the request for an ambulance for FOUR MINUTES.
Logs of 911 calls obtained by the Daily News, as well as interviews with emergency responders, show that it took an unusually long 4 minutes and 18 seconds from the time of the first request for an ambulance from police at the scene to a 911 operator, until the time an ambulance was finally dispatched. Once FDNY and EMS dispatchers received and acknowledged the transmission, it took 3 minutes and 52 seconds to dispatch an ambulance and for it to arrive at the scene.
In an interview late Thursday , FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon conceded there was an unnecessary delay of more than 4 minutes for EMS to respond to the call. But he said “human error” was to blame, not the new computer system.
“An EMS dispatcher apparently got up from his desk at some point for several minutes and missed the transmission for an ambulance that had been sent by the NYPD operator on a relay,” Gribbon said. “We’ve interviewed the dispatcher and he’s admitted he missed it.”
“At some point, a new person sits down at the dispatch terminal, sees some portion of the transmission — that’s when it gets a high priority and an ambulance is dispatched,” Gribbon added.
The FDNY is emphasizing this is not an issue with the 911 system glitches that have already been reported (Gonzalez suggested it might be).
The NY Times reports that the FDNY scheduled a press conference in response to Gonzalez's column. Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said, "The person responsible for reading that screen did not read that screen. Somebody made a mistake, and we are looking into it" and said calling it "a technical glitch, when it wasn’t is just very irresponsible." He added, "I don’t know if the four minutes would have made any difference."
The Times listened to the police scanner at the time of the Tuesday morning collision:
Traffic on a police scanner that morning, however painted a chaotic scene as one of the first police officers at the site of the crash grew more and more frustrated by his failure to communicate with the dispatcher.
“Where is the bus?” the lieutenant asked repeatedly, according to both emergency officials and someone who monitored the conversation over the scanner as it unfolded. The dispatcher on the other end sounded confused and nervous and could not provide an immediate answer.
The lieutenant grew more frustrated, saying he had a semiconscious little girl in desperate need of help.
A fire official told the NY Times that it's "not uncommon for the first responders to grow anxious when a life is on the line. Minutes have a way of seeming like an eternity, the official said."
The driver, Franklin Reyes, 17, only had a learner's permit. The police had been following him because he fled when they pulled him over for making an illegal turn. He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.