Officials Probe 8-Minute Delay in Response to Fire that Killed Siblings

By Ben Fractenberg and Murray Weiss  on April 21, 2014 4:44pm

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 A 4-year-old brother and sister died in a Far Rockaway house fire at 10-31 Bay 30th Street early East Sunday morning. 
Far Rockaway Fire
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FAR ROCKAWAY — Investigators believe human error may be to blame for an 8-minute delay in ambulances being dispatched to the fire that killed two 4-year-old siblings just before Easter Sunday, they revealed Monday.

Officials said the likely reason for the delayed response to the inferno, which killed half-siblings Jai'Launi and Aniya Tinglin early Sunday morning, was a delay in the dispatching system responsible for sending paramedics to the scene.

According to sources, firefighters arrived at 10-31 Bay 30th St. within five minutes after receiving a call at 11:51 p.m.

In accordance with protocol, they called the dispatchers at 11:57 p.m., to notify them that there was a confirmed fire, which is necessary for medics to be sent to a scene.

But ambulances were not sent out until 12:06 a.m. — arriving at 12:12 a.m., a 20-minute response time that could have potentially meant a life-threatening delay — according to union officials and sources.

The president of the union representing EMTs and paramedics, Israel Miranda, said ambulances  were first dispatched at 12:06 a.m. for reports of a fire, but he said that the dispatcher never mentioned any injuries.

He said the paramedics didn't find out until they arrived at about 12:12 a.m. that there were children in distress. 

"The EMT crew took action immediately, began treating both patients along with other EMS Paramedics that arrived shortly afterward and immediately transported the critical patients to the nearest hospital within minutes afterward," Miranda, who represents Local 2507, said in a statement. 

Miranda said that he wasn't sure why there was a delay in transmitting the information about the injuries.

FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano said Monday that the FDNY was trying to recreate the timeline to learn what caused the delay in relaying the information to EMS dispatchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Officials are also trying to find out who handled the calls at the FDNY dispatch center.

Probers are also looking into whether the fire was started by a lighter, which was found after the blaze was put out, police said. There were no working smoke detectors in the home, FDNY officials said.

Witness Megan Maloney, 19, described the chaotic scene that unfolded the night of the fire as FDNY members screamed over their radios for medics to get there.

"'EMS we can't do this alone. Where is EMS?'" Maloney said she overheard firefighters say while they performed CPR on the children in front of the home. 

When ambulances arrived, they couldn't get their vehicles through the crowd, so they had to the carry the children out. 

"He picked the baby up over his shoulder and ran with it," she said. "It broke my heart to know [the children died]."

The siblings were rushed to St. John's Hospital where they were pronounced dead, officials said. 

Jai'Launi's twin sister was also taken to St. John's in stable condition. A 55-year-old woman and 63-year-old man were also rescued from the home and are both in stable condition, according to the NYPD. 

In the wake of the fire, members of the community set up a memorial near the house

"Our condolences to the family of the two children, and we hope a speedy recovery to those injured," Miranda said in the statement. 

The dispatchers' union did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

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