At UN, Talk of Printing Plant
Stroke Death and Ambulance Delay, Dangers Unmitigated After One Year,
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, March 6 -- There
was a buzz both angry and sad among staff at the UN on Friday, about
of a printing worker who had a stroke the previous night in the third
publishing plant. According to colleagues of his, it took nearly an
hour for a
New York City ambulance to be allowed into to attend to him. They
carry him themselves for treatment, but were told that they couldn't.
Speaking to Inner City Press on condition on
anonymity -- they expressed
fear of retaliation even for disclosing this -- they described another
situation slightly more than a year ago, in which a printing plant
his fingers crushed in a machine, and again the arrival of medical
They questioned why, other than during the September
to October General
Assembly meeting period, there is not even a nurse on duty when they
night shift. They said it makes them question the United Nations
and its commitment to the basic rights of its own line workers, despite
pronouncements about the right of others.
"Imagine," one of the dead man's colleagues told
Press, "we work on 42nd Street on the island of Manhattan and it takes
hour for an ambulance to reach us."
What's worse in this situation is that a year ago,
the same problem
arose, and while a journalist died of a stroke on the UN's third floor,
York Fire Department vehicle was stopped at the UN's gate from First
City Press reported on that story, the UN Spokesperson's office
back, denying the time line, implying it would not happen again. Now,
to UN printing plant staff, it has happened again. Where will
UN's Ban Ki-moon tours printing plant, ambulance access not shown
Last year, at the Feb. 22, 2008
briefing, Inner City Press asked:
City Press: How long did it take and what is the policy of the UN on
letting emergency medical personnel on the UN property?
Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq: First of all, there were emergency
medical personnel on hand at the time. As I just mentioned, three UN
security officers who are qualified EMTs performed CPR on Mr.
Janitschek, and there was no sign of life at the time. A defibrillator
was used to try to start his heart, to no avail, and appropriate
medical protocols were followed. The person who was with Mr.
Janitschek, Mr. Casella, your colleague, had immediately called the UN
operator, who called security, who then called the emergency
responders, including a direct call to New York hospital. The first responder was
actually a fire engine truck. They
were not allowed in, because they could not provide the level
of care needed, compared to the trained EMTs, who were there on site
already, the three UN security officers. An ambulance arrived 10
seconds later, and that ambulance and paramedics were let in directly.
Like I said, all of that was to no avail, ultimately. Mr. Janitschek
gave no sign of life throughout this process.
Inner City Press: First of all, who decides whether to let in or not to
let in a New York City fire truck? And what is the policy of the UN in
terms of this? Does it automatically allow emergency or fire personnel
without [searching or blocking them]?
Associate Spokesperson: We have the protocol to call in emergency
responders when there is an emergency in the building, and that
protocol was followed. As far as checking vehicles that come in, that
is a standard security procedure, but that did not result in any
significant delay. Like I said, the ambulance and paramedics were let
The UN later added that [After the briefing, the Spokesperson’s Office
confirmed that the ambulance was not stopped at the front gate at all.]
Editor's note: beyond that fact that
several witnesses continue to describe the searching of the ambulance,
no one has rebutted or even denied the 24 minute response time. In the
UN's scripted statement at Friday's noon briefing, highlighted above,
it is said that a fire truck was denied entry. A UN security officer
after the briefing confirmed that when FDNY vehicles come to the UN,
the policy is to not let them in unless there is / the UN is aware of a
fire. There's a problem: FDNY took over EMS ambulances some time ago,
and FDNY personnel are trained in the procedures which were needed that
February 2008 night. So
why have a policy that includes turning away official NYC emergency
responders from the FDNY? Now,
there's this event in March 2009. Watch this site.
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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