AP Study: 'Total Gridlock' but No Injuries in Bridge-gate

Image: AP Study: 'Total Gridlock' but No Injuries in Bridge-gate

Friday, 14 Feb 2014 07:50 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

A traffic jam orchestrated by members of Gov. Chris Christie's administration and responsible for days of gridlock in North Jersey appeared not to cause poor medical care or leave critically ill patients dying, according to a comprehensive review by The Associated Press of emergency dispatch audio, call logs, and interviews.

The lack of life-or-death consequences reflects good fortune, not good planning. While it would have been impossible for anyone involved to have predicted the gridlock wouldn't have produced serious problems for emergency-services workers, those findings could affect the political repercussions for Christie, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016.

The AP's review sought to identify any emergency situations within a roughly 5-mile radius of the bridge closings where a person's life or urgent medical care appeared to have been directly endangered by stalled response times attributable to the traffic jams — and whoever was responsible for them. The review doesn't suggest who was ultimately responsible for ordering the two lanes closed on the George Washington Bridge.

The 911 records, obtained over several weeks through public records requests, included reports of chest pains, traffic collisions, false fire alarms and a dead goose in a parking lot. Officials in Fort Lee, N.J., the epicenter of the serious traffic problems, have yet to release audio from radio traffic among emergency workers during the week of the lane closures, but the AP's review included the dispatch logs of 911 calls that would have been affected.

Christie has since apologized several times for the lane closures and said he was "embarrassed and humiliated" by a former aide who called for the shutdown. Still, the Justice Department and the New Jersey Legislature continue to investigate whether the gridlock was political retaliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, by the Christie administration. The mayor did not endorse Christie's re-election last year.

It could have been worse. The 911 calls and dispatch logs show that police and emergency medical workers warned of "total gridlock" and pleaded for patience responding to 911 calls around Fort Lee, where streets became a virtual parking lot last September after traffic was unexpectedly backed up leading into New York City.

"The George Washington Bridge is totally gridlocked," a first responder said just before 9 a.m. on Sept. 9, the first day of the lane shutdowns. A few minutes later, a 45-year-old man called to complain of chest pains and said he was resting comfortably on a couch until help could arrive.

"We'll do our best," said the dispatcher in nearby Edgewater. The dispatcher noted the emergency crew was delayed in Fort Lee. The AP could not contact the patient or his family in subsequent weeks because his address and other identifying information were not included in dispatch logs. There were no follow-up 911 calls that morning to indicate rising concerns that the situation was growing more dire as he waited.

Fort Lee's EMS coordinator, Paul Favia, complained in a September 2013 letter to Fort Lee's mayor — before the closures were deemed to be politically motivated — that gridlock was "causing unnecessary delays for emergency services to arrive on scene for medical emergencies within the borough."

He described minor delays in reaching the scenes of a traffic collision, a patient suffering chest pains, and a 91-year-old woman found unconscious in her Fort Lee home and later pronounced dead, although her family said they don't blame the delays for her death.

In Palisades Park, N.J., it took responders about 30 minutes to respond to a traffic collision in nearby Fort Lee on Sept. 9.

The AP's review found other instances of the backups spilling into nearby towns affecting emergency runs, including an early morning 911 call from a nursing home about an elderly woman who fell and cut her face.

"She's been waiting for over an hour," the dispatcher said at 6:20 a.m. on Sept. 9.

Police in the area, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, tried to alleviate the traffic, which clogged local roads and created miles of brake lights for days. Just as rush hour hit full swing, a police officer radioed his plans to stop at the bottom of a nearby street and "pull some of this traffic through."

Ten minutes later, dispatchers offered a blunt assessment.

"Fort Lee traffic is a nightmare," one said. "You may want to come through Palisades Park today," an adjacent community.

Said another: "You're all aware the town is in total gridlock, right?"

Six commuters who were late to work have filed a lawsuit in federal court against Christie, his former aide, and officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Two Fort Lee plaintiffs said their pay was docked because they were tardy.

A former Christie loyalist has said "evidence exists" the governor knew about the closures as they were happening, although he did not accuse Christie of ordering the traffic problems or knowing about them beforehand. In a statement, Christie's office denied the allegation made on behalf of former Port Authority executive David Wildstein.

Documents released in early January showed Wildstein, as Christie's No. 2 man at the Port Authority, ordered the lane closures starting Sept. 9. That was about one month after receiving a text message calling for traffic problems from a Christie administration aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, who was later fired.

Dispatchers sent an ambulance to the Cliffside Park home of 91-year-old Florence Fogarty on Sept. 9 after she fell.

"I was pleased with the service," Fogarty said, saying she doesn't remember any unexpected delays. Logs show that it took responders about one minute to get to her house.

 


© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Reagan Astrologer, Joan Quigley, Dies at 87

Saturday, 25 Oct 2014 00:11 AM

Joan Quigley, the astrologer who helped determine President Ronald Reagan's schedule and claimed to have convinced him t . . .

Mali's First Ebola Case, A 2-Year-Old Girl, Dies

Friday, 24 Oct 2014 23:08 PM

A two-year-old girl who was Mali's first case of Ebola died on Friday, shortly after the World Health Organization warne . . .

US General: North Korea Closer to Building Nuclear Weapon

Friday, 24 Oct 2014 22:53 PM

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, said Friday that North Korea is moving closer . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved