Exclusive: Shocking video
Frantic effort can’t save victim of inferno
By Graham Kates
Nearly half an hour after the fire was called in and 20 minutes after he was carried from the blaze, rescue workers were still pumping his chest vigorously.
But where was the ambulance?
One had already come and whisked Marilyn Brito, the fire’s other casualty, the few blocks to NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital but no emergency medical technician was left to tend to Mr. Lizardo, 47.
According to Fire Department records, EMTs were on scene treating both victims six minutes after the FDNY received a 9-1-1 call at 4:38 p.m.
But Charles Cherry, 23, witnessed the rescue of Mr. Lizardo from building two of the Marble Hill Houses and said there was a long wait before an EMT was available to treat the victim.
Mr. Cherry said he was on scene almost as soon as the fire began. He was getting off a bus when he saw smoke. He and a friend saw a hand on a windowpane and ran inside the building with officials from the New York City Housing Authority and the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
He stayed to watch the aftermath, hoping to catch video of a man’s life being saved. Mr. Cherry provided The Riverdale Press with three video clips taken that afternoon, time stamped at 4:50, 4:54 and 5:01 p.m.
As time drags on in the clips, firemen and police officers are seen alternating in desperate attempts to resuscitate Mr. Lizardo; in the background, Mr. Cherry can be heard asking for the whereabouts of EMTs.
“Where’s the ambulance?” he asks. “The ambulance is still not here, man. That [expletive deleted] is crazy, man … bring him back, bring him back.”
Jim Long, a spokesperson for the FDNY, which runs the city’s ambulance service, said that the six-minute response time was accurate.
“They have a computer on their ambulance, and they hit their 10-84 and that shows that they’re on scene,” Mr. Long said. However, he added that the initial response time of six minutes does not account for extra ambulances that might be called if there are multiple victims in need of treatment.