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Fire Rescue Response Time Questioned After Man Dies On Venetian Islands

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(CBS4)

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – A widow’s heartbreaking email sent just days after her husband’s death is prompting action on Miami Beach.

In it, she claimed Miami Beach Fire Rescue took more than half an hour to respond to her call for help.

“It was numbing,” Miami Beach City Commissioner Edward Tobin said. “It makes you weak-kneed. It was devastating and we’re looking into it.”

Commissioner Tobin read the widow’s message.

“I think the woman who lost her husband has a lot of courage to let people know so that hopefully this doesn’t happen to anybody again,” he said.

In the email to neighbors, the woman said her 65-year-old husband died on March 5th in their Venetian Islands home after waiting more than 30 minutes for fire rescue to arrive.

We looked into the issue after it was first reported by our news partners at The Miami Herald.

According to a police report, the woman, whose name and address we’ve decided not to report, called 911 at 9:05 am after finding her husband on the floor of their bedroom.

The report said a rescue unit was dispatched at 9:12, and it didn’t arrive until 9:36, 31 minutes after the initial call was placed.

“That’s too long,” neighbor Alberto Cruz said. Others on the victim’s block were similarly concerned.

The woman said she called 911 more than once, and was even put on a hold for a time.

The nearest fire station is about 2 miles away.

In the woman’s email, she said cops eventually arrived.

She wrote, “Two terrific officers stayed with me for hours. When they checked the time of my original call to 911 and what followed, they were appalled. They asked the rescue men what took so long…and were told, they were stuck for a bridge!”

Commissioner Tobin said he believes there is a protocol for emergency crews when dealing with bridges on the beach. He mentioned that might have to be reviewed.

The police report did not list a cause of death, but it said the man had been ill due to complications from Crohn’s disease.

In her email she said, “I can’t bring my husband back but know had they been timely I would still have him with me.”

Commissioner Tobin said he will hold off before passing judgment.

“I certainly am dumbfounded,” he told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana. “At the appropriate time, if it warrants it, there will be some severe consequences.”

A spokesman for the Fire Department said they are investigating the incident.

A spokeswoman for the City of Miami Beach also said the city manager was looking into it.

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