I TEAM: shortage of ambulances on Cleveland streets

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CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM is exposing a shortage of Cleveland ambulances on the streets. The EMS union is speaking out after a family waited 31 minutes for an ambulance.

The union shared with the I TEAM a document showing the city has failed to meet its goals for the number of ambulances on the streets more than 40 times since September. Often the city has been down one or two units at a time. But Union President Daniel Nemeth said, “It’s been stated the city staffs 18 ambulances a week 24 hours a day 7 days a week which we have shown that they have not done.”

Nemeth says a shortage played a role in the recent delay for the family of a 9-year-old girl suffering from seizures. Firefighters arrived as medical first responders. But the city confirms it took a half-hour for an ambulance to get there.  "So we lost a unit in the afternoon, but it opened up a couple hours later, and they got the call, but they were way outside the area when the call came in," said Nemeth.

One factor overall, many ambulances keep breaking down and ending up at the city repair garage. The city is replacing some units although that takes time.

Cleveland just held a graduation ceremony for new EMS cadets. But the union says it’s having the same problem the I TEAM has found with other Cleveland safety forces. More people are leaving than getting hired.

The union says the city actually ran more ambulances on a regular basis years ago while handling fewer calls. Last year, Cleveland EMS took in 115,000 calls.

Meantime, the city’s Dept. of Public Safety is investigating the delay in the case of the 9-year-old and the long wait for an ambulance.

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