‘We’ve got to fix it’: Cleveland city council raise concerns over delayed EMS response times


CLEVELAND (WJW) – A FOX 8 I-Team investigation into Cleveland ambulance delays has sparked a firestorm.

There’s new calls for something to be done after a man died as his family waited for help.

The I-Team revealed that Darlene Cook watched her father die in a medical emergency as she waited 17 minutes for an ambulance.

Last weekend, a family waited 16 minutes for EMS as a teen struggled to breathe. Days after that, his mother told us the boy was in a coma in the hospital.

Weeks ago, Patrick Colvin waited 14 minutes during a medical emergency and later died at the hospital.

Now, Cleveland City Council members are asking questions raised when the I-Team met with Cook.

“He needed medical help and it wasn’t there. There is an issue. If they would have been here, my father might be alive today. There is an issue with ambulances,” Cook told the I-Team.

Wednesday, at a Council Public Safety Committee hearing, Councilman Joe Jones said, “I’m concerned about a report that came out yesterday by Ed Gallek (and Peggy Gallek) about EMS response times.”

Councilman Michael Polensek said, “I’m greatly concerned, not only about the staffing, but response times. We’ve got to fix it.”

City safety officials say they’re doing all they can to hire more paramedics. Day after day, Cleveland runs short on ambulances due to not enough paramedics, so the city shuts down units that could answer your calls.

Despite delays we’ve uncovered, safety director Karrie Howard told the committee, “We have suffered no loss of life due to a lack of response time.”

In the delays we revealed, the I-Team computed response times from dispatch records. We looked at the time each call came in and we revealed when ambulances showed up on scene.

Records showed no units available for both calls last weekend with long delays.

For days, we’ve asked city hall to have someone answer questions on camera. Instead, there’s only been silence.

“They need to do something about it. We need more ambulances. We need more help,” Cook said.

While the mayor’s office hasn’t commented, the I-Team has also requested documents and recordings tied to the latest incidents with delays.

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