Ambulance Delay in Deadly Rockaway Fire 'Unacceptable,' de Blasio Says
CIVIC CENTER — Calling the deadly 21-minute wait that left two toddlers dead in Rockaway Sunday “a matter of concern” and “troubling,” Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed Tuesday to make changes to the city’s emergency response protocol if evidence is found of a breakdown.
“I do know, we all know, something went wrong. We’ve got to know why it went wrong. We’ve got to know how to fix it going forward. It’s not acceptable,” de Blasio said during an impromptu press conference outside of City Hall.
Jai'Launi Tinglin and his half-sister Aniya Tinglin, were in the care of relatives when the fire broke out at 11:51 p.m. Saturday, but an ambulance didn’t arrive on the scene until 12:12 a.m. Sunday, according to union officials.
Fire officials admitted an ambulance wasn’t dispatched until minutes after the call came. Sources estimated that delay was about 8 minutes.
On Tuesday, De Blasio said it remained unclear as to what caused the delay.
“We need to know, was it something about the system, was it something about the individuals involved. We just need more facts before we can comment,” he said.
Sources said that probers believe that human error was to blame for the lag between when FDNY officials got to the scene and phoned in a confirmed fire and when an ambulance was dispatched.
Investigators are trying to determine if a call was actually made. Protocol dictates that a call for a confirmed fire automatically means that ambulances are dispatched to the scene.
Last year, dispatcher error was blamed for emergency response delays following the Upper West Side crash that led to the death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo.
De Blasio said he had “concerns in the past about the system,” but wasn’t prepared to blame it for the delay over the weekend.
“Until we have the details I can’t give any specific understanding of what we’re going to do to fix it,” he said, promising that the investigation into the incident “won’t take long.”