Subways Aren't Always Safe
This excerpt from a New York Times article of June 11, 2009 is another example of why beaurocrats should never have final responsibility for decisions involving emergency respone issues:
"A dedicated emergency response team for the subway — trained to help police officers and firefighters confront transit emergencies — was eliminated this spring by New York City Transit, despite concerns of the agency’s safety experts.
The agency’s leaders, including its president, Howard H. Roberts Jr., had deemed the response team unnecessary, even comparing the unit’s officers to Maytag repairmen, suggesting they were seldom used. "
Comparing response team members to Maytag repair people is as low as it gets. Howard H. Roberts needs a reality check.
Emergency response personnel ought to be at the top of any responsible city's list for Most Valuable People. Bureaucrats are, well, bureaucrats. Bureaucrats rarely learn.
Consider: same city (NYC), different date: January 12, 1991, a quote from the same newspaper in a story written by Felicia R. Lee:
"The head of the Transit Authority said yesterday that passengers who suffered smoke inhalation during a fatal fire in a Brooklyn subway tunnel last month may have been exposed to dangerous levels of toxic substances. He promised that the Transit Authority would contact the riders after the completion of a toxicological analysis to determine the extent of the danger posed by the smoke.
The Transit Authority president, Alan F. Kiepper, made his remarks after a transit official testified at a City Council hearing that the exposed piece of cable that is believed to have caused a short circuit and started the fire was encased in polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. The smoke that poured through the IRT tunnel after the short circuit and explosion came from the burning PVC that insulated the cable, the cable itself and the wooden cover over the subway line's third rail.
The official, Thomas Prendergast, an acting senior vice president at the agency, said that when PVC burns it emits two substances, hydrogen chloride and carbon monoxide, that can have serious effects. Health authorities have said that PVC fumes can cause irritation of the lungs and eyes, and in extreme cases, death....
"In 1982, City Council President Carol Bellamy sought to have the material removed from subway stations, citing its potential to emit deadly fumes during a fire. At the time, an environmental physiologist, Deborah N. Wallace, warned that the combination of PVC, the increasing number of track fires and problems with subway doors 'renders the public unsuspecting sitting ducks.'
"The Transit Authority declined to follow Ms. Bellamy's suggestion..."
When it comes to respect, don't waste it on Bureaucrats, save it for Emergency Response Personnel.