I-Team investigation reveals high number of ambulance delays in Cleveland

CLEVELAND-- A FOX 8 I-Team investigation shows for the first time how many patients are left waiting for Cleveland ambulances and for how long.

The I-Team requested records of ambulance response times that were more than 10 minutes in the beginning of May.

Cleveland City Hall sent us an email with lists of so many calls it filled 226 pages. Sometimes dozens of calls each day appeared on the lists.

Most of the delays involved lower-priority calls. But we found some ranked “priority one” showed response times of more than 30 minutes. The city’s target for getting to the most critical calls is 8 minutes 59 seconds.

The EMS union president was not surprised by our findings. He sees paramedics struggling to keep up with calls.

“If we don’t have it, we can’t send it. Unfortunately, that’s what happens," Daniel Nemeth said.

The city points out firefighters are usually first-responders. They can stay on scene and maybe stabilize a patient until an ambulance gets there.

But fire crews can only do so much. The EMS union said the problem could take years to change.

“It’ll take a lot of hiring. It’ll take a lot of ambulances," Nemeth said.

The number of calls for Cleveland EMS keeps going up every year. The I-Team has shown before the city has trouble meeting goals it has set for having ambulances on the streets.

In the past, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said city hall is studying ambulance response time. The city is hoping voters approve a tax increase this fall so that more safety forces could be hired.

But the EMS union wonders what if the tax increase doesn’t pass?