On Saturday night, a Far Rockaway house fire caused by a child playing with a lighter killed two 4-year-olds — half-siblings Jai’Launi and Aniya Tinglin — as well as injured another 4-year-old and several adult members of the family. Witnesses soon began wondering if the deaths could have been prevented had EMS been at the scene earlier. Though firefighters arrived quickly and were able to get the victims out of the building, ambulances took 21 minutes to get there.
“The EMTs took forever to come,” one neighbor told CBS New York. “I was like, ‘These kids are dying in front of you.’ The firemen are trying to work hard enough to get this one alive, and they’re screaming, cursing, ‘Where’s the EMS?’ Where’s the EMS?’” FDNY chief Sal Cassano that firefighters generally wait to call ambulances until they have confirmed the fire is real, though he doesn’t know why that was so slow to happen in this case. “It wasn’t dispatched at that time and we’re looking at why and we’re looking at the reasons if there was a delay,” he said. According to the FDNY, EMS teams were sent to the fire 14 minutes after the 911 call came in, and the trip took seven minutes.