Niagara Gazette — South Lockport Volunteer Fire Company was not summoned to a West Avenue residence in a recent incident that may lead to a lawsuit against the City of Lockport.
Partly inaccurate accounts of the incident, involving 1st Ward Alderman John Lombardi's mother, Jeanette, were given to city administrators by fire and police officials.
Lombardi's family filed a notice of claim against the city earlier this month alleging negligence in the sudden passing of Jeanette Lombardi on Sept. 20, shortly after a 911 call was made on her behalf.
Emergency medical technicians from the Wrights Corners Volunteer Fire Company responded to the call after Lockport Fire Department, whose paramedics normally would field the call, reported neither of its two ambulances was readily available.
The Lombardi estate claims a delayed response to the 911 call contributed to Lombardi's death.
The family believes more than 20 minutes passed between the placing of the 911 call and an ambulance's arrival at Lombardi's home. She died before emergency responders got to her, the notice asserts.
The incident prompted questions by city officials including Fire Chief Thomas Passuite regarding why mutual aid was invoked. According to multiple sources, Passuite's internal investigation turned up problems in LFD including the fact that one of its ambulances, reported to be out of service on a training exercise, was in fact available.
In addition, an LFD officer in charge at the time the 911 call came in reportedly overlooked a departmental operating rule that calls for paramedics to respond using a fire truck in the event both ambulances are tied up. Instead, the officer in charge summoned mutual aid, requesting help from a nearby volunteer fire-rescue company.
Concerning the amount of time between the 911 call and an ambulance's arrival at the Lombardi home, police and fire officials told city administrators that it was due partly to the routine involved in summoning mutual aid. Protocol is for South Lockport Volunteer Fire Company to be called first, and city emergency personnel said it was, twice, without success.
That's not true, according to South Lockport Fire Chief Derek Caldwell. His company wasn't contacted at all regarding the Lombardi incident, he said.
Records kept by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, which dispatches all calls involving volunteer fire companies countywide, back Caldwell up.
Chief Deputy Thomas Beatty, the sheriff's department's records access officer, said a voice recording and printed log of dispatching activity in the Lombardi incident both show central dispatch contacted Wrights Corners company only — and further, that its emergency crew arrived at the Lombardi home 11 minutes after being summoned, not 20-some minutes as the Lombardi estate claims.
According to City Attorney John Ottaviano, police and fire officials "assumed" South Lockport had been contacted because it's physically closest to the point of origin of the 911 call.
How administration officials came to be informed it had been contacted twice, and that the time gap between the Lombardi call and response exceeded 20 minutes, he has not fully determined, he said.