Saturday, April 19, 2014

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DOI Launches Probe Into Fatal Accident Response

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The city Department of Investigation is now looking into the 911 response to the car crash that killed a 4-year-old girl last month, which has sparked a debate on whether it was linked to human error or a computer glitch. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

The picture shown above of Ariel Russo was taken just days before the little girl was run over by an SUV, killed on her way to school.

Her parents said their hearts will never be mended. They're even more heartbroken thinking that the 4-year-old might be alive if there hadn't been a significant delay in getting an ambulance to where she was dying.

"With the help of our elected officials, that we get answers and prevent anything like this from happening to another child or another family," said Sofia Russo, Ariel's mother.

Ariel's parents are encouraged that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked the city's Department of Investigation to look into why there was a four-minute delay in sending an EMS crew to where a teenager crashed into the girl and her grandmother while allegedly fleeing police.

The family and their lawyer said they want the truth, not a cover-up.

"A truly independent investigation requires fresh interviews from day one," said Sanford Rubenstein, the family's attorney. "Not review of interviews already conducted by the fire department, because that is the city investigating itself."

"That's all we can really fight for, is the truth," said Alan Russo, Ariel's father. "We can't just lay down and take what happened and just move on."

Operators and dispatchers said there have been a number of problems with the newly installed computer system that was launched just days before Ariel died. They said the computer screens didn't alert dispatchers that there was a request for EMS.

City officials have said it was human error. The president of the union representing EMS workers said it is not the operators and dispatchers, but the new 911 system, to blame for the problems.

At a rally of upset 911 operators earlier this week, the union said city officials must take responsibility.

"You can't keep blaming the users for problems with management," said Israel Miranda of the EMS dispatchers' union.

The mayor's office said there will be a thorough investigation. Ariel's parents said anyone involved with a cover-up or mismanagement of the newly installed 911 computer system should be prosecuted.

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