The New York City Fire Department’s “highly cumbersome” dispatch system contributed to delays in sending ambulances to a fire in Queens in April that killed two toddlers, according to a new report released Tuesday.
The city Department of Investigation “exposed an antiquated, unwieldy system for dispatching ambulances to the scene of an active fire that substantially increases the opportunity for human error,” said DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters.
The blaze, which was sparked when a child was playing with fire, broke out at a home in Far Rockaway. The first call to 911 came at 11:51 p.m. According to fire officials, an ambulance should have been dispatched at 11:57 p.m. when the fire was confirmed, but the first ambulance wasn’t sent out until 12:05 a.m. and arrived at 12:12.
The victims, Aniya Tinglin and her half brother, Jai’Launi Tinglin, were each four. Three others survived.
A supervisor and three 911 dispatchers later were suspended for 30 days without pay.
The report concluded the dispatch “was impeded by a highly cumbersome ambulance dispatching process” that involved interaction between at least seven staffers from FDNY, police and Emergency Medical Services. Poor supervision of the dispatch staff also contributed to the errors.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the department has implemented procedural changes and is investing in technology “to make certain that there’s no delay sending ambulances to fires.”