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Let The Scapegoating Begin


After Storm Response, Chief of Emergency Medical Service Is Demoted

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.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Mr.Bloomberg
    How dare you lay any part of the response time of EMS at the feet of John Peruggia. I was a Paramedic with EMS for almost 17 yrs. I made it to Lieutenant before being injured at the WTC and having to retire. You have some nerve trying to scapegoat this onto the backs of any Dispatcher, EMT or Chief who was either working or forced to stay. Let’s put the blame where it is suppose to be right at your feet.
    I have known John Peruggia for almost my entire career. Though I did not agree with some things he did, there was not a more dedicated person for the job that he was appointed to. He spent his whole career educating himself to emergency response. When it came to setting up operating procedures at a MCU he helped write the book. What you have done just proves how out of touch you are with the problems you have created for this city. Why of all agencies is EMS the first to be pounced upon? What was Peruggia suppose to do with getting Ambulances down unplowed streets. I might be out of the loop but I still hear the stories of what is going on within the FDNY/EMS system.
    Let’s look at spare Ambulances that do not exist anymore. We use to have at any time 3 to 5 spare Ambulances in a station let alone a Borough. Now there is maybe one or two for that Borough from what I am told. Have there been any replacements or new Ambulances to a fleet that is supposed to be replaced over the 5 yr period of a contract. Or have you cut the budget to EMS while not to the rest of FDNY.
    Why is Peruggia the person to be demoted while you stand there with you friend that you appointed to head Sanitation and say what a fine job he was doing through the snow storm. How about the OEM deputies? When was OEM really activated and a SNOW EMERGENCY was called. From the start of this storm you failed to respond in the manner a city official should. You were on your undisclosed vacation instead of at your post. I have to laugh because you fought against term limits when you were to be elected. Remember 911 and we didn’t need Giuliani to stay mayor. That is as ludicrous the transition could not be made during a time of crisis. Yet when your time was up you went above the voters of the city and appointed yourself the only person who could save this city in a time of finical crisis.
    Well Mr. Bloomberg you could not even handle 20 inches of snow falling onto the streets. You tell people to take a play in. How were they suppose to get there or were Manhattan streets clear? Anyway you go and regulate salt, transfats and how people should live their lives. While the streets fill up with snow and people die. Then you blame the response time of EMS, yet who do you replace Peruggia with, but Aldo Nahmod the person who ran the EMS dispatch system. Why was it not his fault that Ambulances didn’t get there on time? Understand I am not saying Nahmod cannot do the job or is not has qualified has Peruggia. That is not for me to say and I do feel Chief Aldo Nahmod is a dedicated employee who has the safety of the people in NY at the top of his list.
    The politics that are being played, and the blame being laid at every door instead of the right one….YOURS.
    One last thing never forget those who gave their lives on 09-11-01 and are still dying. FDNY-EMS-NYPD-PAPD and those at the Pentagon.

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