Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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December 6, 2012

City facing suit over 911 response

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — An alderman's sister has put the city on notice that she may sue over a mishandled 911 call made for their dying mother earlier this year.

In a notice of claim filed in state Supreme Court, Niagara County, this week, Beth A. Arajs, executor of the estate of Jeanette A. Lombardi, tentatively charged that city-dispatched first responders contributed to Mrs. Lombardi's death on Sept. 20 by taking too long to act on a 911 call made on her behalf.

Mrs. Lombardi, 75, was the mother of 1st Ward Alderman John Lombardi III.

Emergency response was summoned to Mrs. Lombardi's West Avenue home some time between 11 a.m. and noon Sept. 20, after she experienced sudden physical distress. According to Arajs' notice of claim, "the call was neglected for such a significant amount of time that when assistance finally arrived (she) had already died."

Arajs' attorney, Gregory Stamm of Williamsville, said more than 20 minutes passed between the 911 call and an ambulance's arrival at the home.

According to multiple sources, the ambulance was sent by Wrights Corners Volunteer Fire Co., after Lockport Fire Department invoked mutual aid due to both of its ambulances being tied up. At the time the 911 call came from the Lombardi home, one ambulance reportedly was transporting a mental health patient out of the city while the other was listed as being used in a training exercise at Van de Mark Chemical.

Arajs' notice of claim asserts the city, through employees, agents and subcontractors, was "negligent, careless and reckless (in its) failure to properly respond to a 911 call as required by law, regulation and established protocols; failure to keep one unit in service when another unit is transporting out of the immediate area of responsbility; failure to maintain backup coverage if all other units are out of service; failure to properly prioritize call coverage; failure to keep in continuous radio contact with dispatch; and failure to train personnel in their duties resulting in Jeanette A. Lombardi's death."

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