Facing mounting criticism for a poor response during the blizzard that buried New York City last month, the chief of the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service was stripped of his command on Wednesday.
Someone had to take the fall, so why not John Peruggia, chief of EMS? After all, EMS is a disposable function of FDNY, so let’s get rid of him. In fact, let’s make EMS the whipping boy for the entire screw up. After all, their union is far less powerful than the sanitation department’s union and we all know that Bloomberg is afraid of those guys. Besides there is another investigation going on into possible conflict of interest violations by Perruggia, so it was a convenient time to get rid of him anyway.
I have no doubt, that as with last year in Pittsburgh, the investigation will eventually lay the blame on some dispatchers and field medics, who in their turn will be disciplined by the city.
BTW, this is the same FDNY-EMS that chronically understaffs it’s ambulance “tours” and relies on hospital based “voluntary” ambulance services to provide EMS to people who call 9-1-1. I wonder if they had any plan to put extra units on the street in the face of what was being described as a blizzard by the weather forecasters? Well, I wonder rhetorically, because I bet I know the answer.
In the days after the blizzard, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made it more than clear that he was unhappy with E.M.S.’s performance. Last week he said he was “extremely dissatisfied with the way our emergency response systems performed,” and called the reaction to the snow “a lot worse” than the response to other snowstorms. He also noted that the city’s new director of emergency communications, Skip Funk, would perform an exhaustive review of what went wrong. Several City Council members have also called for a hearing into the storm response.
And just who is ultimately responsible for EMS performance Mayor Bloomberg? Oh, that’s right you are, just as you are responsible for everything that goes on in city government. Except for when you can lay the blame off on someone or something else.
Federal prosecutors have also opened an investigation into the response by the Sanitation Department amid allegations of a work slowdown. But Mayor Bloomberg — despite his strong criticism of the E.M.S. response — has defended the Sanitation Department, denying that any intentional slowdown occurred. The sanitation commissioner, John J. Doherty, and the heads of the sanitation unions have also disputed allegations that workers deliberately botched the cleanup.
As Captain Renault said in Casablanca, “Major Strasser has been shot… round up the usual suspects.” Despite the mounting evidence that there was a conspiracy among some sanitation department workers to screw up street clearing to protest the demotion of supervisors, the Mayor is defending Sanitation and laying the blame on EMS.
Predictable, but still disgusting.