CLEVELAND-- A FOX 8 I-Team investigation uncovered where the Cleveland ambulances were when no EMS units were available as a shooting killed a driver for the ride service Lyft and injured his passenger.
The driver died at the scene and the passenger ended up spending days in the hospital. It happened early Monday morning on the city’s northeast side.
Police radio tapes show it took more than 20 minutes to get an ambulance to the scene. City hall said 16 minutes 45 seconds, but even that would be much longer than the average response time.
Cleveland had 19 ambulances rolling. Records show more than half the ambulances were tied up at hospital emergency rooms. Those were either heading to an ER, already dropping off a patient or getting ready to leave after just making a run to a hospital.
Meantime, we found most other ambulances out on calls with patients. Most of the patients involved in the calls were top priority or second priority emergencies. However, we did find one EMS unit hauling a patient from a low-priority call.
We also found one unit marked "at base" on the west side.
The 911 recordings the Lyft passenger who’d been shot and wounded even got put on hold while talking to dispatchers. Finally, she screamed, “Please! Can’t somebody get here? Oh, my God!”
The records also show an ambulance on another emergency was called off to get to the scene of the shootings. But sources said that ambulance had to get there from another side of town.
“There’s gonna be those times when we have no units available," EMS Union President Daniel Nemeth said.
Nemeth said city ambulances keep handling more and more calls. While the city is adding paramedics and ambulances, the union is calling for more.
“What does the city want to do? I know they are putting more ambulances on the streets. It takes a while. Are we gonna have enough?" Nemeth said.
Investigators are still trying to solve the mystery of who’s to blame and why.
The woman who survived had surgery this week and was released from the hospital.