New York News

Emails highlight complaints by EMS about 911 system

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

There are more problems for New York City's 911 system.

Eyewitness News has obtained emails showing some EMS officials had complained about problems with the city's new emergency system after the death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo.

The city admits there was a four minute delay in dispatching help when the little girl was hit by an SUV last month.

She died and now her family is demanding answers.

Standing with their two-year-old son Jacob, now their only child, Alan and Sophia Russo have found themselves on a crusade in the name of their 4-year-old daughter Ariel.

"This Thursday would have been a whole month since our daughter was taken from us, and yet we still have no answers as to why there was a delay in getting an ambulance to us on time," said Sophia Russo, the victim's mother.

"We still don't know who was the cause of the four minute and 18 second delay," said Sanford Rubinstein, the family's attorney.

These emails have surfaced about lost EMS calls from other emergencies, sent days after the toddler and her grandmother were hit by an SUV fleeing police on the Upper West Side.

In the first sent one day after Ariel was killed, an EMS supervisor inquires about incomplete requests for assistance, or a lost job, writing, "Why are these jobs coming in this way and what are we suppose(d) to do with these types of jobs."

The response from the head of EMS computer programming comes on June 6th, two days after Russo died, acknowledging the problem.

"We get several of these day, along with estimated addresses which may not have sufficient information for responding units to find the incident," the response said.

"Since this email came to light, I was surprised, when I found out about it and saw it on the news myself, those emails are two days after the actual incident," said Israel Miranda, President of Uniformed EMT's, Paramedics & Inspectors Union.

Over the phone an FDNY spokesperson tells Eyewitness News the emails were sent a month ago and addressed a month ago and maintains, "Since the system went online May 29, EMS has handled 131,621 calls. Not a single one was lost."

"There is a message that comes up on the screen it says PD lost. Some people have interpreted that to be a lost call. However all it is, is a piece of information getting out ahead of the other information," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

But none of this is the clear answer the Russo family is looking for.

"I just hope the truth comes out, that someone fesses up and says that there's a real problem at hand, it just feels like everybody is defending the system," said Alan Russo, the victim's father.

(Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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