Emergency Medical Services Magazine

Article from Emergency Medical Services Magazine

NY Times: Some Firefighters Could Have Been Saved

Ten months after losing 343 members in the collapse of the World Trade Center, the bad news was still coming for the Fire Department of New York: Many of those firefighters could have been saved, the New York Times reported in its editions of July 7.
Police warnings of the north tower's imminent collapse were never received by firefighters, the newspaper reported, and many firefighters in the north tower didn't receive FDNY's own evacuation orders. Partially to blame: The same outdated radios and communications problems that plagued response to the WTC bombing eight years earlier.
"Cut off from critical information, at least 121 firefighters, most in striking distance of safety, died when the north tower fell," the Times reported. "Rescuers' ability to save themselves and orhters was hobbled by technical difficulties and a history of tribal feuding and management lapses that have been part of the emergency response culture in New York City and other regions for years."
According to the Times report:
-Police and fire commanders never talked to each other during the 9/11 crisis;
-The fire department's radio system failed in exactly the same way it had during the 1993 WTC response;
-Most firefighters in the north tower were unaware the south tower had collapsed;
-Commanders lost control as personnel rushed headlong to the scene and into the buildings, some in defiance of direct orders;
-So many resources went to the WTC that more than 400 EMS calls backed up without ambulances to answer them;
-Despite nearly $25 million spent to coordinate the city's response, no joint emergency exercises had ever been conducted.
"As a function of command and control, it was evident that the fire department has no formal system to evaluate problems or develop plans for multiple complex events," investigators from the U.S. Naval War College, quoted in the Times, said after a December planning exercise with FDNY. "It was equally evident that the fire department has conducted very little formal planning at the operational level."