The FOX 8 I TEAM has found a woman called Cleveland 911, but she had to wait ten minutes just for the chance to explain her medical problem.
It happened earlier this month, and the city just released the recording to the I TEAM.
In recent months, we’ve reported many times on Cleveland dispatch delays as well as delays sending ambulances to calls. But this case, an extreme.
On the recording, a woman calls 911 for an ambulance, and a calltaker says, “Hold one moment while I get 'em on the line.” That meant she needed to send the call to an EMS dispatcher. But none was available for ten minutes and 20 seconds.
During that time, the woman who had called then repeatedly heard a recording telling her, “All operators are currently handling other emergencies."
And at one point, the calltaker tried to start finding out what the medical issue was, but that recording interrupted the conversation.
The I TEAM has reported the city has been short-staffed with EMS dispatchers, but the city has promised to hire more. So we went to the mayor to find out what’s going on with that.
Mayor Frank Jackson said within weeks the city will add 13 new EMS dispatchers. This will fill open positions and expand staff. The city is using money from a new tax increase for that. The mayor said, “That will help us alleviate that problem. And it’s a serious thing that we take seriously. That's why we're putting the money in it.”
When we brought this delay to the attention of the mayor, it bothered him. He said, "I imagine if it were my mother or my wife..."
Ultimately, the medical issue was a diabetic problem, not life-threatening. However, even after the wait to tell a dispatcher the problem, the patient still had a long wait for an ambulance. She was told, “We are extremely busy” due to a high call volume.
The city also promises to add paramedics and ambulances on the streets. The mayor says the ambulances are on order.