NBC 4 New York
The FDNY's top brass defended the city's new 911 system Friday and said it was a dispatcher's mistake that left a 4-year-old girl struck by a car waiting an extra four minutes for an ambulance. Chris Glorioso reports.
Fire officials say "human error" within New York City's 911 system caused a more than four-minute delay in dispatching an ambulance to help the 4-year-old girl who was struck by an SUV on Manhattan's Upper West Side earlier this week.
"Somebody made a mistake," New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said at a news briefing Friday.
Ariel Russo died at the hospital a short time after she was hit Tuesday morning. Her grandmother, who was also pinned by the SUV, was taken to the hospital in unknown condition.
Cassano said that a dispatcher received the emergency call after the crash near 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, but didn't see it immediately and left the terminal for a break.
Four minutes later, a different operator sat down, saw the call and dispatched the ambulance.
By that point, eight minutes had passed since the crash — and police at the scene had radioed 911 four separate times in an effort to get the little girl medical help, the Daily News reported.
Russo was still alive but "semiconscious" at the time officers at the scene radioed in their fourth call for help, according to the paper.
Cassano said the department is talking to the dispatcher.
"The screen should never be left unread," he said. "These are life-saving calls. We'll look at the person that handled that call improperly, and if discipline is required, we'll discipline people."
Russo and her grandmother were hit Tuesday by a 17-year-old driver with a learner's permit allegedly trying to evade police who had pulled him over for alleged reckless driving. The teen has been arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter.
Cassano says glitches in the city's new 911 system were not to blame for the delay.
"It had nothing to do with the system," he said, adding that suggestions the technology malfunctioned were "offensive" and "irresponsible."
He says it's not clear whether a faster response would have helped Russo.
The FDNY is investigating the error.