Short Hills mall murder prompts push for on-site ambulances

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Friday, February 13, 2015

TRENTON (WABC) -- A New Jersey State Assembly panel approved a bill Thursday to require parking garages with clearance levels that prevent access by ambulances to have on-site an appropriately equipped emergency transport vehicle.

The bill, sponsored by Bergen County Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, comes in response to the murder of 30-year old Dustin Friedland, a lawyer from Hoboken, in a parking garage at the Short Hills Mall in December 2013.

An ambulance arrived just 18 minutes after Friedland was shot, but the parking garage clearance was too low for the ambulance to enter, Huttle said.

"Emergency responders lost precious time when they were forced to abandon the ambulance and run on foot with a stretcher to reach Mr. Friedland," said Huttle. "Under this bill, an emergency transport vehicle would be available to reach a person in need of emergency services and transport that person to a waiting ambulance. We can hopefully avoid tragedies by allowing emergency medical workers quicker access to victims."

Under the bill, the vehicle must be able to access every level of the parking garage for the purpose of transporting persons in need of emergency medical transportation to an ambulance outside the garage.

The Commissioner of Health would be required to come up with guidelines governing the specifications for emergency transport vehicles.

The bill was released by the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.

Friedland was shot in the head as he and his wife Jamie Schare Friedland returned to their Range Rover in the parking deck of The Mall at Short Hills.

Ms. Friedland later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the mall owners and a first aid squad. It alleges Michigan-based mall operator Taubman Centers Inc. reduced security to increase its profits.

Four men charged in the fatal carjacking pleaded not guilty to felony murder and other charges.

Friedland was killed after a shopping trip, authorities said.

The assailants drove off in the couple's silver Range Rover, which was found the next morning in Newark, about 10 miles from Short Hills, according to prosecutors, who said the couple was targeted solely because of the make of their vehicle.