Brooklyn Streets 4 Days LaterEmergency services in New York City are coming under tremendous scrutiny, as reports trickle in of horror stories about people in need during the blizzard who were left to their own devices during medical emergencies. A stroke victim didn't receive care in time to prevent serious brain damage, and an unconscious man lay in the snow for three hours before bystanders could flag down help.
As the ambulances were all snowed in, Mayor Bloomberg is now being accused of not being prepared for the blizzard early this week: a crisis situation that had the unique benefit of forewarning. While Bloomberg has said he will be digging for answers starting with dispatch and working his way up the emergency response team chain, it's too late for a mother who lost her baby on Monday after calling 911 and not receiving a response for almost nine hours.
When my daughter was due in February, and we lived in New York, we used to joke about what we would do if she decided to arrive in the middle of a blizzard. Tragically, a Brooklyn woman found out when she went into labor and dialed 911 at 8:30 am on Monday. Not sensing any urgency, her call became low on the list in a city where ambulances couldn't even get down streets for hours. But by 4:30 pm, the woman's second call was urgent as she was bleeding and the baby was crowning. By 5:20 pm police officers who walked through the snow -- because no vehicles could get through -- found her standing outside her apartment building. Witnesses say the police brought her into the interior of the building and laid the baby out on blankets, but the baby was not breathing.
Reportedly the lobby of the building was freezing, and it's not clear if the woman was trying to get to the hospital eight blocks away or trying to flag down help when she was found outside. Regardless, she and the baby were taken to the hospital hours after calling for help. She is fine, but her baby did not live.
It's hard to pin down what's most disturbing about this story. Obviously the death of a baby is the biggest tragedy, but a city that is so crippled by a blizzard, which they knew was coming, is even more frightening. What happens during a hurricane? Or another terrorist attack?
I hope Mayor Bloomberg puts 100% into finding out why plows weren't working around the clock to make sure emergency vehicles weren't going to be trapped in the first place, and that major streets could be cleared as well. It seems like an unspeakable amount of tragedy could have been avoided, if only a little preparation could have been taken.
Image via emilydickinsonridesabmx/Flickr