CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered yet another extreme delay as a family waited for a Cleveland ambulance. So, we caught up with the Cleveland Safety Director Karrie Howard, camera rolling, asking questions.

The I-Team has revealed chronic EMS delays for years.

Now, we’ve learned this case has sparked an internal investigation.

This time, a woman waited more than half an hour for an ambulance.

It happened earlier this month on the west side.

Donald Witters called 911 and said, “My wife…she’s having a severe allergic reaction. Everything’s swelling up on her.”
As the conversation went on, a call taker asked, “But, she is having trouble breathing, you said?”

And, the caller responded with, “A lot.”

Records show that patient waited 35 minutes for an ambulance.

Witters told the I-Team, “It wasn’t good. She started getting worse and worse.”

He added, “For them to do this, it wasn’t good. Almost makes you not trust calling 911, again.”

We went to city hall and caught up with Howard.

He said, “I’ll have to look into it, Ed. I’m not familiar with that one. Let me look into it.”

We also asked about chronic EMS delays, so often, due to short-staffing.

We asked, “What do you tell the public?”

But Howard responded with, “Your cameraman is getting kind of close, walking through, he’s spinning around me, and making me kind of nervous.”

Yet, while he made a point about the I-Team photographer there, we never blocked the safety director’s path.

We kept the focus on ambulance service to you.

Safety Director Howard, then, said, “EMS engages in dynamic deployment. And, between EMS and Fire, our first responders will make sure they’re covered.”

The City has said for years when EMS is short-staffed, the division moves ambulances around so that no part of the city is left uncovered.

But, time and again, we’ve revealed dispatch notes showing no units available.

We tried to ask the safety director about this, saying, “But, we still see these delays…”

Yet, he walked into an office.

In the latest case, Cleveland firefighters did get there quickly, and they gave the patient oxygen.

But firefighters even noted in their report, they waited half an hour for EMS.

A captain wrote, “An EMS unit needs to be dispatched and responding in a quicker time frame. A ½ hour response time to a patient in respiratory distress is unacceptable.”

Meantime, EMS Interim Deputy Commissioner Chris Chapin sent FOX 8 an email that included,
“This call was coded as a Delta or high-level call and according to the policies of the division there should be no delay dispatching of this severity of an emergency.  The Division is currently investigating and if warranted disciplinary action will be enacted, due to the investigation we are unable to comment further.”

Donald Witters told us his wife spent a week in the hospital, and she survived.

But he wants the city to do something about the ambulance delays.

He added, “Thankfully, she recovered, but other people might not.”