When snow comes in the form of a blizzard and the City that it descends upon cannot cope with the volume of snow dropped upon it, there are victims. When emergency response vehicles (ambulances, fire vehicles and police vehicles) cannot travel upon the roads, due to the snow upon the streets, the most vunerable will suffer.
New York City experienced a terrible blizzard beginning on Sunday, December 26, 2010 and ending on Monday, December 27, 2010, which dumped 20 inches (50.8 centimetres) of snow on the City’s streets and as a result, the City found itself “snowed in”. This amount of snow represented the fifth-largest snowfall on record for New York City.
New York City’s residents and emergency services experienced the helplessness and despair associated with the paralyzing effect of a blizzard. City buses became stuck in snow and were subsequently abandoned.
During the blizzard, the 911 service dispatchers received tens of thousands of calls and were forced to prioritize those calls, depending on the medical severity. New York City’s 911 service system received 49,478 calls on Sunday, December 27, 2010, the sixth-largest number of calls ever received on a single day.
Residents who called for medical assistance waited for up to six (6) hours for an ambulance to arrive. When the ambulance or fire vehicle or police cruiser responding to the call finally did arrive, the Emergency Medical Technician, Fire Fighter or Police Officer found upon leaving the call, that their vehicles could not negotiate the snow on the streets to transfer the person in need of medical services to the hospital.
Hundreds of ambulances were unable to move on New York City’s unplowed roads and were unable to drive around motor vehicles that had been left on the streets. The City responded by towing as many abandoned vehicles as possible. As many as a 1,000 abandoned vehicles had been towed from three major New York City area expressways.
Emergency Medical Services personnel were forced to carry people on foot to hospitals and to provide medical attention at the scene.
A woman in labour from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, called 911 at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. At 6 p.m. the ambulance finally arrived, but the baby had stopped breathing and did not survive.
Residents had called about a man lying in the snow face-up, unconscious. When EMS arrived three hours later, the man was suffering from severe hypothermia and did survive.
The general chaos caused by the blizzard not only caused total gridlock on the streets of New York City, but also frustrated travellers who found that the storm caused about 8,000 flights to be cancelled by different airlines.
Billionaire Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City’s Mayor for his third term, is concerned about the fact that his city has been paralyzed by twenty (20) inches of snow and the City’s apparent inability to effectively cope with this blizzard. Mayor Bloomberg lives in a private residence, on the Upper East Side of New York City.
New York City Council President Christine Quinn, has called for hearings on the blizzard reaction, next year on January 10, 2011.
Update: January 6, 2011 – We failed in the snow.
Update: January 6, 2011 – Mayor Says, This Time, City Will Be Ready for Storm.
With up to five inches predicted, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg promised what appeared to be a blizzard-level attack with salt spreaders, plows monitored by GPS and employees with cameras streaming live feeds of street conditions to City Hall.
Update: January 9, 2011 – Council to Grill Mayor’s Team Over Response to the Blizzard
Update: January 11, 2011 – City Officials Admit Mistakes in Response to Blizzard
Update: January 12, 2011 – Michael R. Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, speaks (see YouTube) about the Blizzard.