CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered yet another extreme delay with Cleveland EMS, as a man struggling to breathe waited nearly an hour for an ambulance.
The I-Team has put a spotlight on EMS delays again and again, and we dug into what caused the hold-up this time.
It happened in late December, and the city just released dispatch records.
A man called 911 from East 142nd Street. He told dispatchers, “I’m having a hard time breathing.”
He said he couldn’t even take a couple of steps.
But records show an ambulance didn’t arrive at the home for 56 minutes. The man’s mother said she never expected to wait nearly an hour for paramedics to get to her door.
“I panicked. Wasn’t too much I could do,” Vanessa Lee told us.
Firefighters showed up quickly, but she said they couldn’t help much, she said.
“No oxygen mask, no tanks, no, ‘Maybe we can take you to the hospital,’ or something like that,” she said.
A dispatch record shows when that call for help came in, the 911 center noted a high number of calls in that area. The record told us this call didn’t even get dispatched until after 44 minutes. By that point, the record also shows, EMS was in shift change. The final response time added up to 56 minutes.
Cleveland EMS responded with a statement that said, in part:
A call was received on December 21st at 1830 hours. At the time of the incident all units in the area were handling higher priority emergencies. A first responder was dispatched to the scene and remained with the patient until the ambulance arrived. The dispatch center remained in contact with the first responder on scene regarding the patient’s condition. The patient was transported to Marymount Hospital in stable condition.
The I-Team has exposed Cleveland EMS delays for years, often finding they’re due to short staffing. We’ve found it having more and more of an impact on you.
We recently learned nearly 500 calls in two months didn’t even get dispatched for at least 20 minutes — even some high-priority calls.
Back on East 142nd Street, Lee points out taxpayers don’t expect to wait nearly an hour when they hear help is on the way.
She spoke of her son, saying, “He coulda died. He coulda passed away.”
And, she left us with a message for the mayor:
“Fix it somehow. Make sure everything is done right, as far as people’s health. What if it’s your family, or something like that? That’s not right at all.”
The city said it is “working diligently” to recruit and hire more EMS staff.