‘He needed medical help and it wasn’t there’: I-Team uncovers more long EMS delays

I-Team

CLEVELAND – With tears streaming down her face, Darlene Cook, of Cleveland, tells the FOX 8 I-Team that she called for an ambulance as soon as her father showed signs of a stroke.

Dispatch records show it took 17 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

“I was terrified. It was my father, my father on the floor dying,” Cook said Tuesday. “I was waiting for the ambulance, it must have been 5-10 minutes. I called again. I was running across the street to my neighbors, screaming for help. Still, no one was here. I was beating on my dad’s chest myself. He needed medical help and it wasn’t there.”

Cook said she made the first 911 call at 4:58 p.m. Friday. The ambulance arrived at her father’s southeast side home at 5:15 p.m.

Her father, 82-year-old Ken Sellers, died.

“There is an issue and had they been here, my father might be alive today,” Cook said.

Saturday night, on the west side, a family waited 16 minutes after calling EMS for a 14-year-old boy who was having trouble breathing. Tuesday, the boy’s mother told us he was still in the hospital in a coma.

Records show, in both cases, firefighters showed up first to start medical care. Firefighters, however, don’t provide the advanced medical care of ambulance crews. Ambulance crews also transport patients.

These calls come to light just weeks after the I-Team told you about Patrick Colvin. He died at the hospital after it took 14 minutes for EMS to get an ambulance to him.

In Colvin’s case, the nearest ambulance had been taken out of service due to short staffing. The I-Team has learned, on the the days of the delays last weekend, Cleveland EMS had also shut down ambulances due to not having enough paramedics.

The response times we just highlighted are all more than twice as long as the EMS target for getting to top priority calls.

This raises more questions about what Cleveland’s safety director told city council. Months ago, he said, even with short-staffing, no one should be worried about getting an ambulance in a serious emergency.

“There’s no lack of services resulting in lives being placed in jeopardy,” Howard has said.  “The entire city is covered.”

Sellers’ daughter disagrees.

“There is an issue with ambulances.” Cook said.  “They need to do something. We need more ambulances, we need more help.”

The I-Team requested an on-camera interview with someone from city hall to address the latest extreme delays. So far, no one has responded to our request.

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