New York snow coverage from FireTruckBlogs.com, here, and Firegeezer, here and here
Sources said the demotion of Chief John Peruggia relates directly to the department’s problems in responding to the storm.
His replacement, Abdo Nahmod, captained the first combined Fire-EMS station, in Rossville, in 2003-04. Most recently, Nahmod has been deputy assistant chief overseeing the department’s Emergency Medical Dispatch.
“Despite Chief Peruggia’s dedicated service to this department, I felt new leadership was needed at this time,” said Cassano, a resident of Huguenot. “Last week’s blizzard presented tremendous challenges for the department that are currently being addressed with an eye toward improving performance.”
A source told the Advance that a rumored 70 percent of FDNY ambulances working in the storm got stuck in the snow, while private ambulance companies fared far better. At one point, there was a backlog of more than 1,300 emergency calls for assistance. In the case of a woman with a broken ankle, the wait stretched to 30 hours, and a child born unconscious at home was declared dead later at the hospital.
“We didn’t do the job we had wanted to do, that I wanted to do and everybody else wanted to do,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said.
Mr. Peruggia did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Wednesday. But Patrick Bahnken, president of the Uniformed E.M.T.’s, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors F.D.N.Y., said Mr. Peruggia was being blamed for mistakes that were not in his control.
“I believe that there were some system failures that were certainly beyond his pay grade, and that he simply did not have the authority to make decisions or not make decisions,” he said. “Ultimately I am sure that the commissioner is going to continue to do a thorough review, and we anxiously await the final report when the commissioner is prepared to issue it. Certainly we will be looking at it very carefully.”
The breakdown came as the city is in the midst of overhauling its fragile 911 system — which is still using outdated radio and dispatch equipment — a project years in the making that is behind schedule and that city officials have said would provide dispatchers with better technology.
Federal prosecutors have also opened an investigation into the response by the Sanitation Department amid allegations of a work slowdown. But Mayor Bloomberg — despite his strong criticism of the E.M.S. response — has defended the Sanitation Department, denying that any intentional slowdown occurred. The sanitation commissioner, John J. Doherty, and the heads of the sanitation unions have also disputed allegations that workers deliberately botched the cleanup.
A person familiar with the matter said Mr. Peruggia also has been the subject of a Conflicts of Interest Board probe in connection with allegations he took a free trip from a vendor that does business with the FDNY. Mr. Peruggia is accepting the board’s findings and is expected to be fined, the person said.
Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced enormous dismay with the performance of the 911 system during the storm. “We take our emergency life-saving responsibilities very seriously and I’m extremely dissatisfied with the way our emergency-response systems performed,” he said a week ago Wednesday.The mayor said the city’s 911 system became overwhelmed by the deluge of calls. On Monday, the city received more than 49,400 calls to 911, the sixth-largest volume in history, resulting that night in a backlog of roughly 1,700 calls to the NYPD and FDNY. He ordered a comprehensive review of the 911 call-taking and dispatch functions, as some of the loved ones of those who died have taken to the airwaves to express their grief and anger at the city’s sluggish response to the storm.
The administration is examining, among other things, whether ambulances should have taken different routes, and whether emergency personnel should have parked farther away from scenes and walked.
Also on STATter911 …
- Lt. Richard Nappi, FDNY Engine 237, dies at three-alarm Brooklyn warehouse fire. Mayor says ‘Lt. Nappi overheated, suffered exhaustion and collapsed.’ – April 16, 2012
- Crane collapse goes to fourth-alarm in Manhattan. Buildings evacuated. – October 29, 2012
- TV news report says DC ambulance crew drove past house to nearby fire station to get crew there to take call. Report of 15 minute delay. – August 17, 2012
- UPDATE: Read DC report. Deputy Mayor Quander cites 4 civilian medics & 3 firefighters for discipline in delayed help for police officer. Also, demoted lieutenant & 2 other firefighters want Chief Ellerbe fired. – March 21, 2013
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