Dispatch recordings reveal an old problem having a new impact.
On one 911 call, a woman tells dispatch, “Yes, my baby has a piece of hair wrapped around her toe.”
On another 911 call, a man says, “I got a lot of itching going on. I want somebody to see what’s going on with my skin.”
On another, a woman called 911 to say, “I’m stuck on my potty.”
A dispatcher responded with, “You’re stuck on your potty?”
The woman answered, “Yeah, I can’t get up.”
The I-Team has exposed chronic delays with Cleveland EMS many times due to short staffing. We’ve also shown you how low priority calls can also tie up ambulances, but the city sends a unit to virtually every call even if it sounds ridiculous.
Now, we’ve found nothing has changed despite significant problems getting ambulances to calls.
We recently revealed, in two months, an ambulance didn’t get dispatched for at least 20 minutes in 500 calls. Those calls included some medical emergencies.
Nonetheless, another caller told a dispatcher, “He was in one of those hot-chip challenges and now he’s not feeling too good.”
The I-Team gets silence from Mayor Justin Bibb. We recently showed you his campaign promises about EMS, but he won’t answer questions for us about ambulance service for you. Top managers won’t either.
But, a spokesperson sent us an email indicating no change in the policy for sending an ambulance.
The EMS union recently released a statement, pointing out EMS needs more people and that higher priority calls are getting delayed by lower priority calls.
In yet another example, Cleveland EMS sent an ambulance to a man across the street from a hospital. He said he had severe pain in his hand and he had been to the ER, but he had grown tired of waiting to be seen.
A recording shows a 911 dispatcher telling the man, “I’m going to send you an ambulance.”
“Try to take a breath. They’re going to come to West 25th Street in front of the hospital,” she added.
Next time you call for an ambulance in Cleveland, there’s a good chance dispatch may be juggling calls like that.