CLEVELAND (WJW) – A FOX 8 I-Team investigation has found residents are waiting longer for an ambulance in Cleveland even in life-and-death emergencies.

We dug into Cleveland EMS response times.

We noticed when you call for an ambulance in the city, you are waiting longer and longer.

Records show that in the most critical emergencies from 2019 until now, the average wait for Cleveland EMS is now a minute and 47 seconds longer.

In the second most critical category, the wait is 56 seconds longer.

The city has said the target for top priority calls is 8 minutes.

Now, records show the average response for top priority calls is more than 9 minutes.
Thursday, the I-Team approached Cleveland Safety Director Karrie Howard after a news conference.

He refused to answer questions about the EMS response times, and he kept walking away from us.

We also went back to the daughter of Ken Sellers. Last year, he died during a medical emergency.

His daughter, Darlene Cook, called for an ambulance, but she had to wait 17 minutes.

So, we shared our new findings with her.

Cook said, “There’s no excuse for it.” She added, “They need to fix this problem. They seriously need to look into this because it’s costing lives.”
Records also show a trend of longer response times even on lower priority calls.

In a 7-week period, we found more than 200 calls for an ambulance did not even get dispatched for at least 20 minutes. And, sometimes not for a very long time. However, the City did not list the kinds of medical issues involved in those calls.

The FOX 8 I-Team has investigated EMS’ struggle with short-staffing for several years.

We’ve learned EMS is currently down dozens of people. We’ve also found the City falling short of its promise for the number of ambulances in Cleveland.

The President of the EMS Union said in a statement, “Response times will continue to increase as the division has trouble staffing ambulances on a daily basis. With recruitment and retention being a huge problem within EMS, the problem will only worsen.  Hopefully, the city and the union can reach common grounds on a fix to recruit and retain quality EMS workers. “