FDNY: Human error to blame for ambulance delay - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

FDNY: Human error to blame for ambulance delay

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By COLLEEN LONG | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Human error was behind a delay getting an ambulance to the scene of an accident that killed a 4-year-old girl this week and injured her grandmother, the fire commissioner said Friday.

The accident on Manhattan's Upper West Side was touched off Tuesday when a 17-year-old unlicensed teen took his parent's car without permission and was driving erratically, authorities said. Officers tried to stop him, and he fled, making a wide turn onto a residential street where he struck Ariel Russo and her grandmother, police said. The teen has been arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter.

The dispatcher received the emergency call at 8:15 a.m. but left the desk without seeing it and no one saw it for four minutes, Commissioner Sal Cassano said. Someone else noticed it and sent an ambulance that arrived four minutes after that. The usual response time is about 90 seconds faster, he said.

The city has a new 911 system, and part of it has suffered a series of glitches recently that have stalled computers at dispatcher's terminals, at one point for an hour at a time. Cassano said that wasn't the case here.

"There were no technology glitches," he said. "There was nothing wrong with the system, the system worked," he said. "Somebody made a mistake who was handling that call. We're looking into it, we'll find out what happened. If discipline is required, we'll discipline people."

Cassano said he doesn't think the delay happens often. He said it's not clear whether little girl's life could have been saved if the ambulance got there sooner.

"There were people on the scene; there were police officers on the scene," he said. "But for the family, thinking that it made a difference, it's unfortunate, it's very unfortunate."

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