Boy Whose Treatment Was Delayed by Snow Dies

Jose Peralta

January 06, 2011

The New York Times

A stricken 3-month-old boy whose medical treatment was delayed last week by unplowed streets in Queens died Tuesday afternoon at Elmhurst Hospital, paramedics said.

The infant, Addison Reinoso, began having breathing problems and lost consciousness last Wednesday afternoon, said Patrick Bahnken, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY.

A baby sitter alerted the boy’s father, who tried to resuscitate him while the boy’s mother called for help. But it took her several minutes to get through to someone on 911, another 10 minutes or more for rescue workers to reach the family’s home on 39th Avenue in Corona, and 30 minutes for the ambulance to get close to the hospital, only to get stuck in the snow on an unplowed stretch about a block and a half from the emergency room door.

Mr. Bahnken said one of the emergency medical crew members grabbed the baby and ran for the hospital while simultaneously trying to resuscitate him.

The snow had stopped falling more than two days before.

Addison was brain dead and clung to life for six days. His death was first reported by El Diario.

Mr. Bahnken said emergency medical services crews suffered from an array of problems during the blizzard. Ambulances did not have traction straps for their tires to help them get through the snow, streets were clogged with snow and stuck cars, and many ambulance battalions ran out of gas because their requests for fuel were denied by the Fire Department operations center in the days before the blizzard, he said.

“This loss was tragic,” Mr. Bahnken said. “If we had adequate access to the patient and could get through the streets and reach this child in a timely fashion, I’d like to believe — and I do believe in all my heart — that perhaps we could have made a difference.”

The death was at least the second linked to the uncleared streets. In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a woman gave birth in a building vestibule during the storm after emergency crews could not make it to her home. The baby did not survive.

Frank Sobrino, a spokesman for State Senator Jose R. Peralta, whose district includes East Elmhurst, said the baby’s family was looking into organ donation and hoped to bury him in Ecuador. Mr. Peralta’s office is trying to raise money to pay for burial expenses and the cost of flying the body to South America.

“I don’t know of another area in the city where the consequences of failing to plow streets in a timely manner were as devastating as in my district,” Mr. Peralta said in a statement. “The examination of all that went wrong these past four days must be exhaustive and honest. Upon conclusion of that review, swift and forceful action must be taken against those who failed our city in a time of need.”

by Andy Newman and Anahad O'Connor