Woman Breaks Ankle, Waits 30 Hours For Ambulance In NYC Blizzard

A Brooklyn woman who slipped and broke her ankle on Sunday had to wait 30 hours for the ambulance to show up after she called 911. The blizzard, and the city’s sub-optimal response to clearing it up, left cars and even emergency service vehicles stranded in the snow.

The woman lay on the floor while her family tried to make her comfortable with pillows, an improvised splint and some old weak pain meds. She cried out in pain every time someone tried to move her. Mostly she just lay on the floor weeping from the agony.

911 had a huge backup during the blizzard, reaching 1,300 calls at one point. The Fire Department tried to triage their response, prioritizing those in life-threatening situations first.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged that ambulance drivers made a mistake in trying to drive on unplowed roads. Instead they should have stuck to paved roads and then reached victims by going on foot down snowy blocks.

Help arrived for the 58-year old at 2:30 am on Tuesday morning when three EMTs carried her out on a gurney down the unplowed street and over a snowbank. They themselves had just gotten off of being moored in an ambulance for 8 hours in the snow.

Woman waits 30 hours for ambulance in NYC blizzard [Newsday] (Thanks to Will!)

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  1. MaliBoo Radley says:

    Yes, snow makes things difficult and slow. Sometimes there are delays in services. I realize this woman was in pain, but she wasn’t dying. A consumer issue?? Really??

    • kataisa says:

      ITA. This isn’t really a consumer issue. Snowstorms inconvenience everybody, including EMTs, the police, firefighters, and other people we depend on daily. The lady’s lucky she only had a broken foot, it wasn’t a life-threatening injury.

      Besides, the family could have used all that extra snow to keep the swelling in her foot down while she waited. ;-)

    • RxDude says:

      No kidding. Unless it’s bleeding profusely or the bone is shattered, an ankle is a low priority in the grand scheme of emergency response.

      “The woman lay on the floor while her family tried to make her comfortable…”

      I’ve jacked up an ankle plenty of times – there’s always the other foot to hop on. Was she morbidly obese? Why not carry her to a bed/chair/couch?

      “She cried out in pain every time someone tried to move her.”

      Yes, a broken ankle is painful, but it’s about as far from your center mass as something can be and still be attached. Both arms, the head and torso, and the entire other leg will move without disturbing the injured ankle. Stabilize the ankle, suck it up, and move fercrissakes.

      Unfortunate situation for an entire city. No pity for some lady lying on the floor and wailing when somebody tries to help her.

      • Noadi says:

        Exactly. What I see this as is more of a lack of first aid education. She should have been gently moved to a more comfortable location like a bed/couch/recliner, had her foot elevated with pillows, and with ice applied for periods of 15 minutes every few hours to reduce swelling.

        I fractured my ankle and tore the hell out of the tendons in September. It was excruciatingly painful but I knew what to do while waiting for a friend to come drive me to the ER. An ambulance was not necessary though I’m not 58 so I imagine hopping around on one foot is much easier when you’re 30 years younger.

        I feel terrible for this woman, I know the pain she was in, but it was a blizzard. You have to prioritize the most life threatening emergencies when transportation is limited and a broken ankle isn’t a high priority.

    • Aennan says:

      This could have been a life/death issue (especially in anyone over 50). Broken bones untreated for a long period of time (counted in number of hours) can lead to blood clots building up and breaking free and/or internal bleeding (especially if the person is taking their aspirin-a-day).

      • facted says:

        Umm…as a physician I can tell you: not so much.

        I have to agree with the others that unfortunately, when resources are limited, highest priority has to go to those with the most pressing issues and a broken ankle (while not comfortable), is not life-threatening. Furthermore, I guess as an only in NY type of thing, who calls an ambulance for a broken ankle?

        Cab it? Have a friend drive you? I know those are limited options in a snowstorm, but I wonder what the women would have done sans snowstorm.

        • Bladerunner says:

          I’m guessing you aren’t an ER doc…

          I don’t live in NYC, but where I live I’ve taken worse than that…I literally took someone in whose complaint was “I couldn’t sleep last night.” At 11 AM, and they had 8 working cars in their driveway. At least a broken ankle is an actual issue requiring attention.

      • flickchickca says:

        If it’s an open fracture, there’s also the risk of infection.

  2. Cameraman says:

    But there WERE no plowed f*cking roads to have taken in that part of Brooklyn. This isn’t a case of “why didn’t they just park a few blocks away, because a few blocks away had the same exact conditions!

  3. Cyclone says:

    After a few hours, I think that as a responsible family member I would have been carting her to the hospital myself. But yea, that’s just me.

    • Anathema777 says:

      Yes, it would have been much better for her to be crammed into a car and stuck on the unplowed roads than in a house.

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        Just go frontier style, build a sled and some snowshoes, and drag her ass to the hospital!

      • Bladerunner says:

        Was the transport any better? Unless it was paramedics, it’s not like she got pain meds when they came. People seem to think sometimes that ambulances are magical teleportation devices. If she was going to go in, and the family had the means (the roads were pretty bad), they should have just taken her.

  4. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    I understand this was a huge storm, but why was NYC so unprepared for it? It seems to me that they have a big storm every couple of years, and that there should be some plan in place by now.

    • Cameraman says:

      Every couple of years? Try 10 months ago, nearly identical snowfall totals and wind conditions.

      • Mom says:

        My brother lived in NYC for 17 years, until a couple of years ago. There was almost never any actual snow in the city, certainly not a couple of feet at one time. I can’t blame them for being at least somewhat unprepared. A lot of our current extreme weather is a new thing, thanks to global warming.

        • RxDude says:

          Yeah…NYC never had blizzards before global warming.

          • AnthonyC says:

            Out of curiosity, is that in jest, or are you actually saying the continued existence of blizzards has any bearing on the existence global warming?

        • JasonR says:

          Perhaps your brother is not a great source for snow totals:
          http://www.weather2000.com/NY_Snowstorms.html

          Having lived in Manhattan from ’95 until recently, I would agree that the snow seems to magically disappear, even when the totals are impressive on paper. The City generally does a great job of moving the show as it’s falling and gets roads passable and cleared quickly. The ’96 storm sticks in many New Yorkers minds because the snow fell so quickly that the plows and even merchants shoveling their sidewalks couldn’t keep up with it. Ultimately we had snow banks on most sidewalks for about a week with narrow paths cut through them for pedestrians, and the streets weren’t a whole lot better. All the storms since then were nothing to write home about as far as their impact to most New Yorkers, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. The question remains as to why this storm was different than the ones that came before. Did the snow fall too quickly to keep up? Did the temperature play a role? Or were plows and sanders/salters deployed differently? The Mayor’s office is saying that the plan was no different than in the past, but these questions will be addressed in a postmortem.

          • Kate says:

            From what I heard 2 inches an hour. That’s pretty dang fast even for where I grew up in the northern Midwest.

        • Niphil says:

          Your brother is wrong.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think the brunt of the storm was supposed to hit DC, not the Northeast. We were supposed to get 6 to 10 inches, more in some parts, but then it swung wide and pretty much missed us completely. I think we ended up with 1 or 2 inches of snow, 5 in some of the mountainous regions, and the storm barrelled into the Northeast.

    • dolemite says:

      I wonder the same thing about hurricanes and earthquakes. Every few years one or the other hits CA, FL, etc., and it’s a national emergency that taxpayer dollars pay for, and everyone acts like it’s a big tragedy.

      Or like the village that gets wiped out because they live at the base of a smoking volcano. Umm…no, I don’t have a lot of sympathy.

      Now, if a hurricane somehow hit OH…they have something to complain about.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        I agree completely. For the crazy dollars thrust into the hands of insurers, all of a sudden not having any money available for clean up? Shouldn’t the municipalities also buy into insurance?

        Maybe less so with earthquakes, but weather events are pretty predictable. Blizzards nor hurricanes are surprises.

      • kujospam says:

        Don’t say that. I live in OH, you will make all of our property values increase. Then again. considering you can buy a house here for 60-100k that would normally cost 1 million in CA. That probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

      • gman863 says:

        This may be splitting hairs; however hurricanes DO hit Ohio. The catch is that – by the time they arrive – they’re considered “extratropical” and have lost their naming rights.

        Think back to the last weekend in August, 2008. Remember the power outages, uprooted trees and localized flooding?

        Ike wasn’t picky. Although he lost his name and street cred a few hours after slamming the Houston/Galveston area he found the Ohio Valley to be a great place for an encore disaster just one day later.

    • BethM says:

      It’s not like they’ve been lazy in figuring out how to handle that much snow. There is no way humanly possible, at this point, to take care of that much snow any faster. That’s like saying “wow, people have known about tsunamis forever, why haven’t they figured out how to prevent damage from them yet?” This is a SERIOUS amount of heavy, wet, snow over a HUGE area. Be realistic.

      • guspaz says:

        Montreal was hit by a snowstorm that was only slightly smaller about a month ago. Buses slow down, and there were some fender-benders, but no major issues. Not too long after, all the snow was removed.

        The island of Montreal is 499 square kilometers with a population of 1.8 million. The city of New York is 786 square kilometers with a population of 8.4 million.

        NYC has far more tax revenue to clear the snow from a similar amount of land. No excuses. Montreal gets an average of 218 cm of snowfall (86 inches) a year. NYC just doesn’t have proper snow removal procedures.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      It’s easy to say that, but what do you do with the snow? Years back, they used to toss/plow it in the river, and got rid of it that way. But because of environmental concerns, you now need to use special snow melting trucks which melt the snow, filter the resulting liquid, then dump the water into a sewer or storm drain nearby. There are only so many snow melting machines, and you can’t have them on every street. So you have to do it based on a priority system. Main roads, hospital roads, fire roads, etc…

      • huadpe says:

        Montreal actually rents out fields during the winter to dump snow onto because the St. Lawrence freezes over and there’s nowhere at all to put the snow otherwise. Kills the fields for summer use cause of the aforementioned chems, but the owners can’t be too upset since they keep doing it.

    • Don't Be "That Guy" says:

      The media is now reporting that the Department of Sanitation staged a “Slow Down” to protest mayor Bloomberg cutting jobs/salaries.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/30/national/main7197882.shtml

  5. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I’ve lived all my thinking life in South Florida so I have very little recollection of snow and snow technology (according to my folks I loved it, but I still need to validate my sources). So, forgive me if this is an ignorant question.

    Couldn’t they just bolt on some scoops on emergency vehicles?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Also, I found
      this pretty cool (pardon the pun).

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      Not really, you need to push the snow somewhere to the side or you’re going to get stuck behind the mountain of snow you’re driving in front of you.

      That is a reason why there is usually a “no parking” on dedicated “snow routes” and most cities don’t plow side streets with on street parking as the only thing that would accomplish is to bury the cars (at best).

  6. Skellbasher says:

    As someone who worked in EMS on the streets of Buffalo through many winters, I feel for both the EMS personnel and the sick/injured in NYC. The job isn’t easy to start with, but it’s made tougher when snow hits like that. Ambulances don’t do as well in the snow as you might think.

    The city’s response to the snowfall has been, by many accounts, poor. Shame on Bloomberg for shitting on the people out there working 24 hour + shifts trying to get to sick people.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Agreed.

      In the mid-90s the DC area was hit with a blizzard a little larger. At the firehouse we took shifts to constantly remove snow from our parking lot so we could get to the street. Everyone was snowed in for 2-3 days. And then the calls really came in with the “what changed today to make you call 911?”….and using a backboard to sled the patient across the top of the snow in their yard to get to the street.

    • dolemite says:

      I dislike when anyone shits on policemen, firemen, EMT, teachers.

      These people already get paid peanuts, yet they are constantly harassed for doing a selfless job that most of us would never want to do in the first place.

      If they were all making 150k a year, you might have some wiggle room for complaining.

      • shadowhh says:

        Peanuts? You dont live in NY do you.

        • Skellbasher says:

          Municipal departments pay their employees well. Try working for a private emergency services company.

          When I was working full time in that field in the late 90s, I was making $7.35 an hour as an EMT-D, the first level of training, and that was with a $0.25 per hour trainer bonus. We were scheduled for 4 12 hour shifts a week, so we always got OT, but you usually ended up working at least another 6 hours somewhere else because the schedule was full of open shifts.

          Medical benefits were nonexistant. Vacation time was there, but it was almost impossible to take. Dispatch would page or call you to take shifts in the middle of your vacation all the time.

          It’s a little better now, but still not great, and only because they’ve unionized.

    • montusama says:

      I live in Buffalo too. A few weeks ago South Buffalo and West Seneca got hit pretty hard while places like North Buffalo got a dusting if that.

  7. AllanG54 says:

    My office is in Brooklyn. Right now I’m double parked next to the plowed in cars at the curb and the block I’m on is only 300 feet from the local fire dept. Many side streets are still snowed under. Bloomberg really missed the boat on this one. Where I live on Long Island, I was out driving on Monday night. Not much of a problem with getting streets done there.

    • msbask says:

      This is categorically untrue. I still live on Long Island, today is Wednesday and there are still many, many sides streets that have yet to be really cleared.

    • Collateral Damage says:

      Double parked? How the hell do you think the plows are going to be able to go down that road?

  8. blinky says:

    mired? marooned?

  9. Straspey says:

    Actually – I heard something much more tragic.

    Apparently, somewhere here in NY City, a woman went into labor and called 911 for help.

    It took eleven hours for the ambulance to arrive and by then she had delivered the baby alone and he was unresponsive.

    They transported the baby to the hospital – but efforts to revive him were not successful.

    • yevarechecha says:

      It was in Crown Heights. I don’t think the woman was Jewish but I wonder if she could have tried calling Hatzoloh. They help non-Jews just the same and maybe could have helped because they were closer. But it’s not an easy 911 number and she may not have known it. Such a tragedy.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I just heard about that on the news and can only begin to imagine how horrible such a thing must be for the parents.

  10. Hi_Hello says:

    at least she can put ice on the ankle while she waits.

    The city does not have dog sleds or snowmobiles to get to people. Should they get some??
    Cops should get some… just in case.

    If marajuna (sp?) was legalized, the family could’ve got her pain under control.

    Why did she put herself in that situation? I’m not 58 years old and I won’t be out in the blizzard. And I have snow gear to help me walk on snow and ice.

    • c!tizen says:

      I like how you think…

    • failurate says:

      It didn’t say anything about where she was when she fell and broke her ankle. But, since she was at home waiting for the ambulance with a broken f’n ankle, I would guess she was in or at least very near her home when she fell.

    • catskyfire says:

      Why did she put herself in that situation? Hard to say. The article doesn’t say how she broke her ankle, only that she slipped. Given that it is possible to slip and fall in your own home, she may never have ventured outdoors.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        you two make sense.

        she should sue whoever house she was at. They should’ve put a warning sign that it was slippery.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    This is nothing. A mother gave birth to her child and it later died, all while waiting for 911 responders.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/12/29/airlines.weather/index.html?hpt=T2

  12. mdoneil says:

    Triage, it is a French word meaning to sort. The broken ankle had a lower priority than the person getting CPR or the person with chest pain.

    She didn’t die. The initial treatment for a broken ankle, is ice, elevation, immobilization, and pain control. It seems she had all those at home.

    • ninabi says:

      I agree with you. A broken ankle is miserable but even if she went to the ER, these breaks aren’t always set immediately anyways- I recall taking my kid to the ER for a broken wrist that was scheduled to be set after the weekend was over. I had to wait a week to have my own broken arm pinned as it was hard to get an open time slot in the OR where I live.

      I guess the biggest question I have is this- were EMTs able to reach people who were facing true emergencies during the storm?

  13. backinpgh says:

    Same thing happened in Pittsburgh last year during the blizzard except the guy actually died because the EMTs refused to walk to the man’s house.

  14. KyBash says:

    We never had weather like this when Bush was in office!

    :)

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      I blame Al Gore and his global warming conspiracy. If only he hadn’t invented the internets, this would not have happened*

      * blame for Obama and them damned dem-a-crats is implied. Naturally.

  15. qbubbles says:

    Wait until the stories of people dying come in. There were tons after the DC storms earlier this year.

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      Although these deaths are tragic it would maybe not a bad idea for people to remember that any rescue effort is a “best effort” and there is no guarantee and be properly prepared.

      Living along a major fault line I am sure to have a well stocked first aid kit not to mention a refresher course every two years as well as emergency supplies at home. Just in case.

      • Crim Law Geek says:

        So I guess the pregnant woman whose baby died was supposed to carry an OB kit around? And a ventilator and infant defibrillator, and an incubator? This is NYC, not the horn of Africa.

  16. Darraign the Sane says:

    Well, the silver lining is that no one’s sueing anyone for anything here. Although, that would have made it worthy of posting on Consumerist. Like others said, I have sympathy for the woman and sympathy for the ambulance crews… but this stuff happens.

    **THIS JUST IN**

    It took firefighters 5 hours to get Molly’s kitten, Skittles, down from a tree. Full story at 11:00.

  17. c!tizen says:

    30 HOURS! I’ll never shop at… oh.

  18. Supes says:

    There’s a combination of reasons NYC appeared unprepared. The volume of the snowfall and the speed of the snowfall (the snow fell unusually fast) are just the beginning. The timing was also miserable, with a lot of city employees just coming back from vacation, and an unusually high amount of car traffic during a storm (since this is one of the busiest travel days).

    I do think that there needs to be some contingency plan when EMTs or ambulances absolutely cannot get to a place. Perhaps a subway trip? Bringing someone with a serious medical issue on a subway car usually is not a good idea, but at the very least it would be a way to get EMTs too the scene of a problem faster.

    Anyway, for this specific instance I don’t think the city acted out of line. A broken ankle sucks, and can be extremely painful. But it’s also not life-threatening in any way, and needs to be a low priority. Especially since this woman had people in the house helping her out. It’s an unfortunate situation, but also the right call by the medical professionals.

    • Rachacha says:

      Agreed. Add to this the fact that the storm hit one of the most densly populated areas in the US and while you can plow the snow, there is no place to actually PUT the snow, it makes for slow cleanup. Earlier this year we had similar snowfall in DC area and it shut down the federal government and schools for 10 days, simply because mass transit was unable to run trains in the deep snow, and while the major city streets were plowed, roads that used to be 3 lanes in each direction were down to only 1.5 lanes for 2 directions.

      Now if this storm dumped only a few inches of snow, or it took a week to accumulate 24+ inches, people might be right to gripe, but 24 inches in a 24 hour period with high winds is nearly impossible to keep ahead of, then throw in the complication of the storm hitting a densly populated area with no place to shove the snow, and you make for a LONG cleanup. Heck, 24 inches of snow can cripple a city like Buffalo that regularly receives more than 2 feet of snow in a single storm.

      • Kitamura says:

        Hell, my city wouldn’t be prepared for a snowfall like that, and we’re so far north we have over 50 plows on contract as required on top of the 60 city operated plows and graters.

  19. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    The problem in NYC is: there’s no place to move the snow to. When you plow, it’s got to get pushed somewhere… in places like Buffalo, NY, there are places to move it to (A lot gets dumped over bridges too) In NYC, there’s blocks and blocks with no place to push it to.

    • RandomHookup says:

      In Buffalo, they can always put it in Ralph Wilson Stadium cause nothing usually happens there after December.

    • guspaz says:

      Push it to? Cities with serious snow removal plans don’t just push snow around, they remove it. This involves snowblower trucks and very large numbers of dumptrucks. The snow is trucked away to designated dump and melt sites, often off-island.

  20. Bernardo says:

    Once again lets thank the NYC Sanitation union for causeing all of this to happen to spite mayor Bloomberg. Just like the MTA strike a few years ago during the Holidays, NYC is held hostage to the unions and people will get hurt, and just like last time people are dying. for the MTA strike we lost a figherfighter who had to use his bike to get around the city, this time, just yesterday we lost a newborn child.

    They started plowing late, they are doing it slower, they are killing people. And they are being paid for it, mean while, we are all paying for it, with our falls, broken bones, missed work hours, and even deaths.

  21. Commenter24 says:

    Everyone always has to find someone to blame. It’s the Mayor’s fault; it’s the Sanitation workers’ fault, blah blah blah. Nobody can just accept that the city got slammed with 20+ inches of snow in a short period of time and even the best response would have still left people stranded, difficult to access and would have still resulted in major problems. But hey, we’re just not happy unless we can point the finger at someone, right?

    • msbask says:

      I wish we could move this comment to the top of thread. That’s where rational thought is needed.

    • Bernardo says:

      We had these kind of storms before and delt with them better than this. Thasts the reason alot of NYers are up and arms about this. We know the city can handle this. But it isnt.

      • Rachacha says:

        The 6th snowiest storm on record for NYC is not something that you can truly prepare for. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/okx/climate/records/footplussnow.html

        Add to that the fact that many of the workers were out of town for the Christmas holiday and when they were “called in” to work and asked to cut their vacations short, if they were out of town, they could not get back to help even if they wanted to. Also consider that at least in my area (Washington, DC) , the storm was difficult to predict, and forcasters were changing their predictions from “a trace” of snow, to a few inches to a foot, to a dusting and back to a few inches over a 6 hour period. I assume the same was true in NYC.

        I am not making excuses for the situation but when you are dealing with the 6th worst snowfall on record, with a storm that was difficult to predict over a holiday weekend where many of your snow removal crews are out of town, people need to set their expectations at a reasonable level. Bloomberg has already said that the response was not up to par and they will look to see where the system failed…after they are done with this emergency.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Hey, I’m in NJ, and you are full of it. We received how much snow in less than 24 hours? I honestly can’t remember when we had a storm THIS bad on a holiday weekend. Yes, we have had larger storms that dropped more snow over a longer period, but you can’t compare the two.

        Starting the night of the storm, we had snowplows doing the parking lots of school across the street. They were still going at it Monday night. One big problem is where do you put the snow? You can only stack it so high with plows, and so high with front end loaders. What do you do with it then? How much snow can the melting machines handle per hour? How many machines were up and running?

        I don’t like Bloomburg, and think he is an idiot, but you can’t blame him. You want someone to blame, blame the planet.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        I should also note, that in NJ, we didn’t even have a Governor OR Lt. Governor at the time of the storm, because they were both celebrating the holiday. So expecting the same of lower level government employees is understandable.

  22. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Here in northern va (granted it’s not Brooklyn), there are contracted plows that go out on every

  23. ThatsWhatSheSaid says:

    stories like this really aggrivate me, as a fellow EMT my self, another bullshit reason to call 911! and then complain it takes someone 30 hours to get there in a horrible blizzard, obviously no one was prepared for….if she was that desperate in pain there is no reason someone/people in her family couldnt of carried her ass through the snow and to the hospital them selves, however way possible they can find…but instead lets make a huge deal out of a broken ankle and tie up 911…i cant tell u how many bullshit calls ive personally been on that are not even worthy of picking up the phone, and to top it off plenty of family members there to take them to the hospital themselves, but no lets wake up volunteers at 3am, because your 5 month old back pain is now SO SEVERE u feel the need to goto the ER….the 911 system is so over abused and i wish people could be issued citations for abusing it, so maybe bullshit calls like this, in a blizzard, wont even get delt with, unless the person is alone as has no other way!

    • pinkbunnyslippers says:

      I think some locales actually do charge for abuses, but I could be wrong. I agree with you, she shouldn’t have been expecting immediate service for a broken ankle but some people don’t know better, or don’t have transportation, etc.

      • ThatsWhatSheSaid says:

        and not having transportation is completely understandable, im sure being that it is NYC probally 60% i dont know accurately dont have cars because they rely on public transportation…but its just common sense, if there is a massive storm like that and you call 911 you just cant expect 10 minute response, especially for a broken ankle…if it took 30 hours, i would be thankful they even came, with having 1300 back logged 911 calls, guess what if you are going to immediately die your going to wait, a very long time, same thing as being in a ER, i worked in a ER for over 2 years as a tech( did EKG, draw blood, patient care, codes etc) and people couldnt understand that when it got slammed busy why their broken toe wasnt being addressed as quickly as someone with chest pain…the lack of common sense people in this world have is truely disgraceful, its too bad you just cant shoot all the idiots, the world would be alot better off! but that snow plow thing is cool, i wish we had that in jersey, sometimes our winters arent bad, but this is by far the worst in a long time…glad i am no longer volunteering that wouldve been hell

    • Commenter24 says:

      I agree with you. I read an article about a huge 911 backlog due to the storm, and the first thing I thought was, “I wonder how many of those callers REALLY needed 911 and how many were bullshit calls from morons.”

  24. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Here in Northern VA, each fire/rescue station has it’s own VDOT snow plow that accompanies them on calls, leaving ahead of them to plow the way in dire conditions. Then i believe there are 2 EMTs that ensure the pathway to the house or apartment is clear to get stretchers through. VA barely gets any snow, but when we got pummeled last year, the squads were ready and prepared.

    Maybe there are just less people calling 911 in VA, but there is no excuse that this should take 30 hours.

    • Crim Law Geek says:

      In NYC, most of the ambulances are privately contracted by the city, they aren’t city crews. There’s also something like a bajillion of them, so you would also need a bajillion plows and crews (plows that would otherwise not be clearing the streets for everyone else). There is also the problem of where to put the snow that gets pushed by the plow.

  25. thedarkerside.to says:

    So. Reading all of the “snowmaggedon” stories in the US and in Europe one has to wonder what the heck happened?

    I could wager a guess: Trying to safe at the wrong spots, but I guess that’ll make me a communist?

    So, what next? Privatize snow removal?

    • stormbird says:

      Yup, lots of communities do it that way. It’s cheaper than buying the trucks and plows and paying extra employees.

  26. kcvaliant says:

    It is NYC, it is not like the country expects them to get things right..

  27. Commenter24 says:

    I agree with you. I read an article about a huge 911 backlog due to the storm, and the first thing I thought was, “I wonder how many of those callers REALLY needed 911 and how many were bullshit calls from morons.”

    • msbask says:

      Blumberg was on the news a half dozen times repeating “Do not call 911 unless it is a life-threatening emergency”.

      The problem is that some people think EVERYTHING is a life-threatening emergency.

      • Commenter24 says:

        Or they are too damn lazy to look up a non-emergency number.

        • tkates says:

          This woman clearly didn’t die as a result of her broken ankle. But calling 911 for someone who can’t walk or be carried to a car for treatment after a bone-breaking trauma is a legitimate use of the system.

          For commenters like me who haven’t been in this situation, it’s easy to rule on what she should and shouldn’t have expected in a storm like this. The story gives no indication that she was demanding immediate treatment, just that her family was trying to take care of her. She was in severe, scream-out-loud pain and deserved an ambulance, snow or no snow. Eventually, she got one.

          One of the commenters mentioned a part of Virginia where snowplows team up with emergency crews. That sounds like something NYC should adopt for this very reason. A mix of city vehicles and volunteers should do the trick in advance of storms like this.

  28. Madman says:

    Rendell was right – we’re becoming a nation of wussies.

  29. YokoOhNo says:

    there is no problem here…it is a contract between two private parties and demonstrates the effectiveness of a free market. If she doesn’t like the service she was offered she could have called a competitor. The government should not be responsible for your welfare if you decide to break your ankle!!!

    this is what happens when a government agency is responsible for clearing the roads of snow…why isn’t this service privatized yet!?!?!?

    • Hi_Hello says:

      I never understood why the city had to plow the the streets.

      I don’t see it as an ‘emergency’ or anything. Do Alaska plow their streets every day??

      1) How much does it cost the city to ice and plow the roads? Can the money to used to equipment emergency crew with things to get them through a snow covered road? snowmobile and stuff. What kind of equipment are out there? I understand why interstate should be plowed by the government, but I bet it’s a lot easier to plow those highway than local roads.

      2) Business. Don’t they shovel their own sidewalks? And don’t they pay someone to plow their parking lot (supermarkets) ? If a business can’t open because of the snow (supply deliveries) can’t the business hire a private plow to plow? Or can’t the supply company higher someone or equiped their truck with a plow?

      You can argue that business open, and they can’t make money, city/state can’t make money from the taxes.. but is the taxes covering the snow stuff??

      3) Residence. I LOVE staying in when it snow. I come out to shovel my side walk and spend the rest of the day inside. I don’t need to go anywhere. I would walk in the snow if I’m bored and want to hike through the area. I don’t see why people can’t shovel themself out. Or why people can’t ride their snowmobiles. If I know that the city/streets doesn’t get plowed anymore. And people can ride their snowmboles and dog sleds and stuff. I’ll buy one just for snow storms!! If I was given a choice to vote to cut taxes and lose city plow, I would sooo cut the taxes, use that money to get me a snowmobiles. Or if they can make a snow motorcycle… that would be awesome.

      4) Public transportation. Can’t buses we equiped with something so they can move in the snow? I use two different city’s mass transit. City 1, their trains are ussually stuck when it snow. City 2, might be some delay but they run their trains back of forth just to make sure the track doesn’t get covered. It would be awesome if sleds came around instead of buses when there’s a snow storm.

      • Commenter24 says:

        This theory works when there is an inch or two of snow; not so much when there is 20+ inches. Very, very few vehicles without plows attached to the front can make it through 20″ of snow.

        Also, snow removal is extraordinarily expensive. It costs cities in the millions (if not tens of millions) to respond to storms like this.

        Look, I’m a pretty anti-government guy, but I do strongly believe that the primary role of government should be infrastructure. The government is generally very good at building roads and other infrastructure, and maintaining that infrastructure goes hand-in-hand with building it. Plowing the roads is pretty clearly infrastructure maintenance, so I really do expect that to be a government function. Sidewalks, parking lots, etc. should be on the business owners (lots) or businesses/residences that abut the sidewalks.

        • Hi_Hello says:

          Hmm you got a point.

          Infrustructure… I wonder how much it would cost to rebuild the city. Change the design… Make underground roads for emergencies or something.

        • Rachacha says:

          I saw a news article today that indicated that it costs NYC $1,000,000 per inch to clear snow, therefore, a 20″ storm would cost about $20,000,000 (although a storm of this magnitude is likely to drive up overtime costs)

  30. Jane_Gage says:

    Most first aid literature advises you to not move the person, so…

  31. Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

    Oh look, and Bloomburg is moving to cut EMS resources. Perhaps the problem lies not in the record snow fall but those who keep reelecting this guy.

    http://roguemedic.com/2010/12/ny-city-decides-to-cut-back-on-ambulances/

  32. Schlake says:

    That isn’t so bad really. I broke my ankle on May 21 about midnight. I wasn’t sure what had happened. I fell down, and something felt wrong, and it hurt to get back up. So I slept there. In the morning I still couldn’t walk, so a friend went for help. About noon he came across a law enforcement officer, so he told the officer I was hurt and gave directions to my location. An EMT arrived about seven hours later, and put some ice on my ankle. The next morning, the 23rd, I had to start crawling because neither a helicopter nor a horse rescue team could make it to me. It took about six hours to get to a point where a rescue mule was waiting. The mule hauled me to where a helicopter and an ambulance were waiting, but at that point I could see my car. A good rule of thumb is to never ride in a helicopter, so I refused it. I refused the ambulance too, since they wouldn’t have taken me to the hospital I wanted to go to. I had a friend drive me in my car.

    So all in all my response to the above story is: pffffft.

    • Commenter24 says:

      Why the aversion to helicopters?

      • caradrake says:

        They tend to be highly expensive.

        Here, an ambulance ride starts at around 1K, and the price increases depending on what services are performed.

        An airlift is vastly more expensive – I think the starting rate is around 5K here.

  33. PsiCop says:

    The way the blizzard was handled in NYC was staggeringly bad, especially considering that it DOES sometimes snow in NYC, so folks there are hardly strangers to the white stuff. They cannot possibly have been as clueless about snow as they seem to have been.

  34. CalicoGal says:

    And yet, with this story and the worse ones noted here in the comments, you still have all these jackasses who are all like, ” OHHHH I LOOOOOOVE SNOOOOWW!!! I hope we get 2 feet *again* THIS YEAR!!! OH SO PRETTY and my KIDS LOOOOOOVE ITTTTT”

    Really? FEH!

  35. NickelMD says:

    I am sorry that she waited in pain, but this is more of an example of how Americans abuse the EMS system far too much. People will call an ambulance for ANYTHING. As an ER physician I see people all of the time who call an ambulance for something stupid whose family follows the ambulance in a car. Worse, some people do it because they feel they will get seen faster if they come in via EMS.

    Contrast this to my experience when I went to visit Scotland recently: I was hit by a kidney stone like a ton of bricks just as I checked into a B&B. I was doing the renal colic dance as I waited for my husband to get the emergency meds I’d brought with us out of our bags. The owner behind the counter asked me what was wrong. I explained it was a stone and I’d had them before and just needed meds which my husband was getting. She looked concerned and asked again: “Are you sure? This might be bad enough that you need to go to hospital for a pain jab. Would you like me to drive you?”

    “Would you like me to drive you?” Not “call you an ambulance” which you would get in the US.

    Broken bones (and kidney stones) hurt. But in most cases they don’t merit an ambulance. In this case, if an ambulance was available, because of the mobility problem it was reasonable. But if there is a 1300 case backlog, people need to try to do things for themselves. Even if an ambulance is available, if you don’t require the medical services provided by that ambulance and if your complaint isn’t a life threatening emergency and you can get a friend or family member to take you, don’t waste the valuable resources of EMS by abusing the system. And if there is a snowpocalyps where ambulances need to be used to take real emergencies to the hospital, ask yourself, should you go instead of a laboring mother or a heart attack victim? If the answer is no, try to find your own way.

    P.S. if we figure out that you used the ambulance to get seen faster for a non-emergent complaint, don’t be surprised if you get a therapeutic wait.

    • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

      And if “the system”‘would allow the creation of advanced care paramedics who could treat and release or decide to transport to the most appropriate facility, i.e. Urgent care, dr office etc. as opposed to straight to the ED. The abuse that is EMTALA may be reduced.

    • Niphil says:

      If you know a way for people with broken bones to get across the city right after a blizzard, please let us know. A lot of residential streets only started to be plowed today, three days afterwards.

  36. baristabrawl says:

    What about the people who dropped dead from heart attacks trying to shovel all that shit? They’ll be laying there until the Spring Thaw. I hate this woman.

  37. tkates says:

    This woman isn’t a special snowflake, and there is no indication that she was acting that way. She couldn’t walk. She was in extreme pain. She had a broken bone. So they called for an ambulance. When it didn’t come, her family tried to make her comfortable. What’s with all of the judgment?

    I sit by a scanner all day and hear a lot of EMS crews going to homes for illnesses and other things that don’t really require an ambulance. I have driven myself to the hospital with a broken elbow because no one was around to take me. But if I was this woman, I’d make a call for an ambulance, too. I wouldn’t just assume that too many other people had medical emergencies and mine wasn’t as big so I shouldn’t even bother.

  38. ScarletAnn says:

    I’m going to bet the NYC meter maids and sanitation ticket Nazis still made their rounds

  39. smarty-pants44 says:

    weeping in agony? I fractured my knee once and it hurt for about an hour then was a dull pain after that…

  40. hawguy says:

    Why didn’t she have one of those family members take her to the hospital or take a cab? Hopefully the 911 operator triaged her and put her low on the priority list – ambulances were slow for everyone, not just those with non life threatening injuries.

    When I broke my ankle I drove myself to my doctor. Ended up in a cast for 6 weeks.

  41. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    I once broke my foot at 1:00 on a Saturday, downstairs while everyone was asleep. My screaming didn’t wake anyone so I hobbled upstairs to get my husband to help me. There was no way I was going to the emergency room at that hour so he got me set up in bed with it elevated with ice packs, some OTC pain meds and a sleeping pill. Painful? Oh yeah, it was BAD. But after a while it swells and with the ice packs it’s not so bad. In the morning we went to the hospital (drove) where they found a very nasty fracture and totally understood why I waited until morning.

    Honestly, a little common sense, first aid knowledge and an understanding of the situation makes all the difference. I didn’t wait 30 hours, but really, stay on the floor? Why?

  42. FrankReality says:

    When we had a recent blizzard, one of the cities nearby assigned a plow to each fire station so when an emergency call would come, the plow would lead the fire engine. The fire department serves as the first responders for medical calls. The ambulance service also had city plows on standby for runs in the city.

    Even then, an ambulance got stuck just outside the city limits, two paramedics met it in their personal 4WD, transferred the patient to the 4WD and drove them to the hospital. Meanwhile, with the ambulance stuck and waiting for a tow, the electrical system croaked and a 4WD was sent out to rescue the crew.

    Conditions in the rural areas were worse – MNDOT was called in to escort more than one ambulance that had gotten stuck Imagine a normal 20 minute ambulance ride takeing two hours.

    Sometimes, things get thrown our way which causes stuff to not work well. Obviously, the emergency services teams should review what went right and what didn’t, then improve their emergency plans and execution.

  43. gman863 says:

    1. Quit kidding yourselves. I grew up and went to college in Central Indiana. Although Indianapolis did an acceptable job of clearing designated snow routes, residential streets often took days to be plowed; if they were plowed at all. In Muncie (aside from plowing and snowblowing on the Ball State Campus), the snow removal plan was known simply as “Spring”.

    2. Given the NYC has had these issues with past snow storms, it’s time to equip EMT stations with snowmobiles and tow baskets. Ski resorts use this as SOP anytime someone is injured on the slopes. Stabilize the victim, put them in the basket and tow them to the nearest hospital or plowed road to transfer them to an ambulance or helicopter.

    It isn’t rocket science, people…

  44. props_nyc says:

    A lot of these comments are clearly not from people that live in NYC. Even today many roads are still not plowed.

    1. There were almost ZERO cabs available in Brooklyn in the aftermath of this storm because there were no drivable streets.

    2. If the woman’s family even had a car, odds are they were buried in snow and couldn’t get to the hospital because there were no drivable streets.

    3. The suggestion that people carry a woman with a broken ankle or attach her to a hypothetical sled is very unreasonable and could be dangerous in some instances.

    All this being said, waiting 30 hours for treatment could happen even if she did make it to the emergency room.

    I broke my arm (open fracture BTW) a year or so ago, and called 911 for an ambulance. True I was on a bike so I could have ridden there (sarcasm) or taken the train or even walked… In any case I only received pain meds and a splint for almost 24 hours before getting seen by the orthopedic surgeon.

    Other stories of medical trauma in the last few days are far more tragic. But most of these comments strike me as ignorant and judgmental.