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“I learned that there were only 3 medical transport units available to respond to an emergency for the entire city”

dc_ambulance_shortage
Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

From Council Member Tommy Wells’ office:

This morning, Councilmember Tommy Wells, Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety took a tour and on-site review of the Office of Unified Communications.

“Earlier today, I visited the District’s 911 call center. During my visit, I learned that there were only 3 medical transport units available to respond to an emergency for the entire city – and all 3 were located in the northwest portion of the city. As I have stated previously, recent failures of Fire and EMS to provide transport quickly point to gaps in accountability, fleet management, and staffing.”

At Council hearings this year, the Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) leadership has repeatedly stated that a fleet of 39 ambulances are needed to cover the city. However, at today’s visit to the Office of Unified Communications by Councilmember Wells at 10:30 am — a non-peak time as defined by FEMS — 31 of those vehicles were on a response call or at a hospital, with 5 of the remaining 8 ambulances unavailable for various reasons and only 3 available to respond.

Adding to concerns about the city’s emergency preparedness and ability to respond to crisis, the FEMS Inventory Report, submitted to the Council on April 29th, showed that more than 40 percent of the city’s ambulances are inactive.

“This is exactly why we must take a long, hard look at the proposed ambulance redeployment plan. The prevailing issues with our Fire and EMS fleet readiness are of grave concern to me, the Council, and the public. My committee is looking into these issues in conjunction with a full report on the “Fire and Emergency Medical Services Ambulance Redeployment Act of 2013”.”

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