The (New Jersey) Record newspaper reports that the September lane closures at the George Washington Bridge delayed emergency responders in at least four medical situations in Fort Lee, including that of an unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died.
On the morning of September 9, the first day of the lane closures, response time for Fort Lee’s EMS service doubled in at least two medical calls, NJ.com reports. It took EMS crews seven to nine minutes to arrive at the scene of a car accident in which four people were injured. Response time should have been less than four minutes, according to the Record’s report. It took responders seven minutes to reach the unconscious woman that morning, the report said. She later died of cardiac arrest at a hospital, according to the report. Paul Favia, head of Fort Lee’s EMS department, noted that “paramedics were delayed due to heavy traffic on Fort Lee Road and had to meet the ambulance en-route to the hospital instead of on the scene.” Responders were also late getting to a third call that morning, in which a person was experiencing chest pains.
The next morning, September 10, it took EMS responders seven minutes to reach a man experiencing chest pains, when it should have taken three to four minutes, NJ.com reports. The traffic problems continued until September 13, though it is not known if the traffic contributed to other EMS delays.
For months, New Jersey Democratic officials have accused Republican Gov. Chris Christie of ordering the lane closures as political retribution for Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor refusal to endorse his 2012 re-election bid. Newly released emails and text messages show that one of Christie’s top aides knew in advance of the lane closures. The governor himself has denied being involved and at a press conference today he announced that the aide, his deputy chief of staff, had been fired, according to New York-New Jersey radio station WNYC.