NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio says it is “not acceptable” that ambulances were slow to respond to a fire in Queens that killed two 4-year-old siblings and injured their sister over the weekend.
De Blasio said Tuesday he expects a quick resolution to the internal investigation into the fire, which broke out Saturday just before midnight at a home in Far Rockaway.
“I’m very, very concerned,” de Blasio said. “Certainly, the preliminary reports are troubling.”
The 911 call came in at 11:51 p.m., CBS 2 reported. An ambulance was dispatched 14 minutes after the call and took seven minutes to arrive at the scene, a fire department spokesman said.
“They took too long to get here,” Shakeea White, a neighbor who called 911. “It took them a very long time. The kids was laid out on the sidewalk and everything. They took way too long.”
“The EMTs took forever to come,” said neighbor Megan Maloney. “The firemen are trying to work hard enough to get this one alive and they’re screaming, cursing, ‘Where’s the EMS?’ Where’s the EMS?’”
But Israel Miranda, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors of the FDNY local 2507, said EMS was at the scene six minutes after being dispatched.
“All records show that the first EMS ambulance was dispatched at 12:06 and that the EMS dispatcher received the call at 12:05 and 30 seconds,” he told 1010 WINS. “So in 30 seconds from the time the EMS dispatcher got the call, it was dispatched.”
Miranda also said “it wasn’t until seconds before” the first ambulance arrived that EMS was told there were two serious injuries at the scene.
Four-year-old Jai’Launi Tinglin and his 4-year-old half-sister, Aniya, were killed. Jai’Launi’s twin sister, Lai’ Launi, had been hospitalized in stable condition along with their 63-year-old grandfather and a 55-year-old aunt.
On Tuesday, the children’s father Mark Tinglin spoke out for the first time, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
“I just want to thank everybody for their support, their love, and my kids will be very missed and never forgotten,” he said.
The emotion was too much for Jai’Launi’s mother, her brother spoke on her behalf on Tuesday.
“On behalf of my sister and my family I just want to say thank you for your love and your prayers,” Anthony Slay said.
Donation Information For The Jai’Launi Tinglin & Aniya Tinglin Fund
Jai’Launi Tinglin & Aniya Tinglin Fund
C/O RDRC Inc.
1920 Mott Ave
Far Rockaway, NY, 11691
Phone: (718) 327-5300
Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider that the department is working to determine why it took EMS so long to respond to the scene of the deadly blaze.
Cassano said it is standard operating procedure for firefighters to respond and confirm a working fire before calling an ambulance just in case it’s a false alarm.
“It wasn’t dispatched at that time and we’re looking at why and we’re looking at the reasons if there was a delay,” he said.
Cassano said he’s in the process of heading up the probe and said investigators are reviewing dispatch calls in hopes that it will shed some light about the apparent delay.
The mayor also said the city’s 911 system must constantly be monitored. As public advocate, he frequently expressed concerns about delays within the dispatching system.
“I want to get down to the bottom of this right away,” he said. “If we have to make some changes, we’re going make some changes in terms of how we do this work because we have to know that each and every time the ambulance will get there as quickly as humanly possible.”
Miranda also thinks the dispatch policy needs to be revisited.
“I think that maybe the protocol that’s being used by the fire department may have to be revisited, reviewed,” he said. “There may be a better way of doing these things.”
The fatal fire has also drawn the attention of local politicians.
“We’re trying not to rush to judgement, but this sounds like an outrageous, egregious affront, and on behalf of these children we are not going to sleep until we get a little justice here,” State Sen. James Sanders, Jr. (D-Queens) said.
The FDNY told 1010 WINS they would not comment on Miranda’s statement and that the matter is under investigation.
Authorities have said the fire was accidentally started by the children playing with a lighter.
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