Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

December 6, 2012

City facing suit over 911 response


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Stamm declined to further specify the allegations in a Thursday telephone interview, saying Arajs is not yet certain whether she'll file a lawsuit against the city. The family hasn't received autopsy results yet and the official cause of Mrs. Lombardi's death will be a determining factor. Notice of Claim is a required step in the process of suing a municipality, and notices must be filed within 90 days of an incident to give the plaintiff standing.

Stamm, who specializes in medical malpractice claims, said the Lombardi claim notice is filed "just in case," while he continues his investigation into the incident.

"It's precautionary more than anything," Stamm said. "We're investigating whether the city took too long to respond to the 911 call, whether there was an unnecessary, improper delay; and we don't have all the facts yet."

Whispered predictions of legal fallout for the city have been coming out of 1 Locks Plaza ever since Mrs. Lombardi died. According to sources, Fire Chief Thomas Passuite investigated his department's actions and determined a number of Standard Operating Procedures — rules governing who does what in specific instances — were violated.

Primarily, the sources said, officers in charge at the department on Sept. 20 erred in two regards.

First, when a 911 call comes in and both LFD ambulances are occupied, standard operating procedure is for a paramedic crew to head out in a fire truck. This was not done. An officer in charge at the fire house told dispatch to invoke mutual aid, instead.

Second, the ambulance that was listed as "out of service" for the training exercise at Van De Mark was, in fact, available according to Passuite's investigation. A firefighting crew was at the scene but the training exercise was over, and the officer in charge did not inform dispatch that the ambulance and crew were in fact available, sources said.

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