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Dangerous Roads: Borough Park Wants 'Island' Action

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- It's pushback -- with a capital "p" -- for a dangerous traffic island in Borough Park.

In what has to be a series of firsts, the community board voted it down and a Department of Sanitation boss dared to say it could cause injuries and deaths.

CBS 2's Marcia Kramer has exclusive details on the island of trouble.

Ladder 114 recently had trouble rushing to a fire because of a new cement traffic island installed in Borough Park. A backup caused by the traffic island forced an ambulance to pull into oncoming traffic to swerve around the barricade.

That driver was lucky. He made it to Maimonides Hospital two blocks away. But another EMT driver wasn't. He told Kramer he was stopped dead at the intersection while racing to a patient who had stopped breathing.

Kramer: "How long did you have to wait?"

Driver: "For three traffic light changes. I would say three to four minutes."

He couldn't save the patient.

Kramer: "Do you think those three or four minutes could have made a difference?"

Driver: "Ah, I believe so. According to the American Heart Association, if you arrive within four minutes when the patient stops breathing or goes into cardiac arrest the chance of the patient survival is 10 times more."

"Lives are in danger. That's the issue," said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Borough Park. "Maybe it's your mother, maybe it's your grandmother, your grandfather, your father, your child in a very serious situation. The difference of a minute or two or three may be the difference between life and death."

Is it any wonder then that, in a first, Community Board 12 and its chairman, Alan Dubrow, voted to demand the city remove the traffic islands.

"Tomorrow, if they can't do it this afternoon," Dubrow told Kramer.

And in another first the local sanitation supervisor said the islands make it difficult for him to do his job. He emailed his bosses that the islands, saying they "could wind up causing serious injuries or fatalities." And, "with the snow season upon us, it is of the utmost importance that the medians are removed."

Department of Transportation officials had an often heated discussion Wednesday with community leaders.

"We met with the board just now and will take their information under advisement," the DOT's Ann Marie Doherty told Kramer.

So now the ball is in the city's court. But the big question is whether it can admit that it may have made a mistake.

A DOT spokesman said safety is the "sole reason" for the pedestrian refuge islands.

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