Report: Jersey Bridge Closures Delayed Emergency Responses

ASSOCIATED PRESS

First responders were delayed in responding to at least four medical emergencies due to the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September that have been linked to one of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) political feuds.

The delays were detailed in a letter from EMS coordinator Paul Favia to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. It was obtained by the Bergen Record and dated Sept. 10, the second day Fort Lee was consumed by gridlock due to the lane closures.

In one instance, it took EMS workers seven minutes to get to a 91-year-old woman who was unconscious and eventually died of cardiac arrest at a hospital.

On Sept, 9, the first day the lanes were shut, Favia wrote that it took seven to nine minutes for workers to reach the scene of an accident where four people were injured when the normal response time would have been under four minutes. That same day, Favia wrote that “standstill traffic” caused it to take nearly an hour for emergency workers to reach a person with chest pains.

Favia also detailed a delayed response time that occurred on Sept. 10. On that day, Favia wrote, it took seven minutes to respond to a call from someone with chest pains when it normally would have taken four minutes or less.

Some Democrats have alleged Christie’s appointees at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, ordered the lanes closed because Sokolich declined to endorse the governor’s re-election bid. Emails and documents subpoenaed by a state Assembly committee investigating the incident show a top Christie aide was involved in discussions about the order to close the lanes with his appointees at the agency.

The gridlock ended Sept. 13 when Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, who was appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), ordered the lanes re-opened.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com
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