I TEAM: investigating ambulance delay in death of local blues legend

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CLEVELAND – The FOX 8 I TEAM is investigating a delay in getting an ambulance to a local music legend after he collapsed while performing.

Guitar Slim, also known as Nathaniel Savage, died after what happened last Saturday at the V Lounge on Cleveland’s southeast side.

He performed with Earl the Pearl and the Blues Posse Band. Suddenly, he hit the floor.

Witnesses revived him, and they frantically called for an ambulance. Bandmate Erlvin Durden wondered, “Why did it take the ambulance so long to come check on Guitar Slim?” He added, “The whole bar was outside, ‘Where’s the ambulance? Where is it?’ Still, we’re getting, ‘They’re on their way, they’re on their way.’”

So the I TEAM did some digging. City Hall says there was a delay getting an ambulance there because 9-1-1 callers gave the wrong address. In fact, one caller said it happened on ‘Woodland’, but it actually happened on ‘Woodhill’. Other callers did give the correct address, but there was confusion.

Meantime, the city claims, despite the mix-up, an ambulance still got there in 14 minutes. But witnesses say it was much longer. One 9-1-1 caller even called during the wait saying he’d already been waiting 15 minutes.

Two of Guitar Slim’s daughters say they even scrambled to the bar from another location before the ambulance got there. Rosalita Marshall said, “My sister was in here doing CPR to him before they came.”

Guitar Slim died at 82. He was husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Earlier this year, he was honored by the Cleveland Blues Society.

It’s not entirely clear what caused his death. Those close to him say he had battled heart trouble.

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