Examining EMS Response to Fatal Fire

8:08 PM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - There is no reason to believe that a faster response from emergency management Tuesday morning would have saved the life of six-month-old Savior Lopez, nor is there any reason to suggest that Rural/Metro's response should be considered "slow" by any means.

However, in light of the 2 On Your Side investigation into Rural/Metro's response times last year, the overnight fatality provides an opportunity to examine response times in a situation of distress.

According to dispatch recordings, authorities first mention a fire on Riverside Avenue at approximately 2:43 a.m. During the next 15 minutes, crews on the scene work to extinguish the fire while simultaneously attempting to revive Lopez. At 2:45, a voice claims that there's a baby down the street who is not breathing. At 2:52, there is a call to flag down an ambulance on Ontario Street.

At 2:55, a crew member on the scene asks the dispatch if there's any update on the ambulance, because he said they were "losing this kid." The dispatch responded that an ambulance was on the way.

The first report of the arrival of an ambulance on the scene comes from crews at 2:58 a.m., when a voice claims they "finally got an ambulance here. They're gonna follow the ambulance up to the hospital."

That's a time-span of about 15 minutes: from the initial report of a fire on the scanner at 2:43 to the report of an ambulance arriving at 2:58 (although the report back to dispatch could have come after the ambulance actually arrived).

However, it is important to note that Rural/Metro's response times are not based on the dispatch recordings. It must first receive word from the dispatch before sending emergency vehicles to the scene. A spokesperson told 2 On Your Side that it received an initial "cold" call at 2:45 a.m., and at 2:48 a.m., that call was elevated to an emergency. By 2:54, the spokersperson said a paramedic arrived on scene, and by 2:57, he said a transport vehicle arrived to take the baby to the hospital.

As the fire crews waited for the ambulance, Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said his team used EMS training in an attempt to save Lopez.

"There's nothing that was not done on behalf of that child," Whitfield said. "All of the Buffalo Fire Department are EMTs."


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