Even heart patients have been left waiting for an ambulance in critical emergencies.
The problem affects everyone going anywhere in Cleveland.
The I-Team checked an entire month to see how often EMS runs the number of ambulances promised to taxpayers.
In one month, EMS hit the targeted number of ambulances only on one day shift and five night shifts.
All other times, the division was short-staffed.
We spoke to Dennis W. Gurley about what happened recently when he called 911.
“I can’t seem to catch my breath. I’m having problems breathing,” he told a dispatcher.
But records show he waited 40 minutes for an ambulance. That report also notes “no units” were available.
“Waiting on the ambulance, I was a little fearing for my life because if I got short of breath again…” Gurley told the I-Team.
Firefighters got to him quickly as first responders, but Gurley needed more.
“The fire department came, but I actually needed the ambulance to go to the hospital,” Gurley added. “I expect the ambulance would get there in 10 or 12 minutes, would be nice.”
The city said EMS that night “was operating at below targeted levels” and that “there was a high volume of critical emergency calls.”
But what about that report for a month showing Cleveland EMS almost never hits the target for ambulances on your streets? No one from city hall answered our request for an interview — not the mayor, the safety Director or anyone from EMS.
A statement from the EMS division reads: “EMS is constantly striving to reduce response times through multiple avenues. … The division is improving staffing levels and has a current class of EMTs and paramedics in training. … “
In the meantime, we also found a heart patient recently waited 27 minutes for an ambulance.
That 911 call shows the patient telling a dispatcher, “I’m having a heart attack, my heart…”
For years, the I-Team has exposed delays. Now, there’s new evidence of chronic EMS shortages.
Gurley wants action from city hall.
“They need to get on their job. They need to try a little harder. A lot of people could die because of this,” he said.
EMS has also said repeatedly that no part of the city is ever left uncovered. But we have often found ambulances responding to calls from across town.