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EMS Response Delayed, Woman Dies Amid Controversial George Washington Bridge Closure, Reports Say

Jan 9, 2014

The headline-making lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in September are being blamed for a number of delays that impacted emergency responders and which included delays in reaching a woman who later died.

The now-political debacle appears to have delayed medical responders from no less than four medical situations in Fort Lee, New Jersey, that included attending to a 91-year-old unconscious woman, who died, according to The Record.

Although Paul Favia, head of Fort Lee’s EMS department, in a letter sent to the borough’s mayor, did not indicate that the woman’s death was a direct result of the delays, he pointed out 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,” according to

Democrats had accused Republican Governor Chris Christie of orchestrating the lane closures, wrote The New Jersey Star Ledger, saying that the governor called for the lane closures after Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor refused to endorse the governor’s 2012 re-election bid.

Publically released emails reveal that a top Christie aide was aware of the closures, prior to the closures being implemented. The governor denies involvement, according to The New Jersey Star Ledger. In fact, according to CBSNew York, the governor says he was “blindsided” by the news, that staffer emails showed “callous indifference,” that the aide—now former Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelly—involved has been fired, and that he has not spoken to Kelly since the firing.

As of today’s press conference, in addition to firing Kelly, who ordered the closures and who was one of his closest aides, he also fired his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and forced him to excuse himself from running to chair the New Jersey Republican Party and to cancel a profitable contract with the Republican Governors Association, reported Stepien was aware of the lane closure plans; Christie chairs the Republican Governors Association.

The traffic snarl doubled response times in at least two medical calls, according to Favia, The Record reported. For example, on the first day of the closures—September 9th—it took EMS crews 7-9 minutes to arrive at a car accident scene that involved four injuries. The response time should have been under four minutes, The New Jersey Star Ledger wrote. That same morning, it took responders 7 minutes to reach the unconscious woman who died of cardiac arrest at the hospital, the report indicated.

Favia’s September 10th letter was sent to Mayor Mark Sololich, which The Record obtained, according to NorthJerseycom.

Another call was impacted by delayed responders, according to the report. In that case, The New Jersey Star Ledger wrote, a person was experiencing chest pains. Favia wrote that it took almost one hour to reach that person, “due to standstill traffic on Route 46 East. The Mutual Aid ambulance coming from Palisades Park and paramedics coming out of Leonia were also delayed due to the excessive traffic,” he wrote, according to

The next morning, according to the report, it took responders 7 minutes to reach a man suffering from chest pains when the typical response time is 3-4 minutes, wrote The New Jersey Star Ledger.

The snarls continued until September 13 and it is unclear if the delays impacted other cases in which medical help was needed, The New Jersey Star Ledger wrote.

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