“8 minutes isn’t a short amount of time when we’re talking about an emergency – especially a life threatening one.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

“Dear Popville,

This evening (Sunday, July 12th) I heard an ambulance coming down the 1400 block of Quincy Street NW (where Lyman’s Tavern is now located). This was surprising considering it is a quasi-dead end that turns into an alley way behind some co-ops and between Rock Creek Park. The ambulance passed the point of no return and went into the alley, which is a clear difference from the street as its cement and poorly maintained (as if the streets aren’t as well). The ambulance got all the way to the end where there is a sharp left turn that would bring you out to Spring Road NW and it stopped. The driver threw it into reverse and what ensued was 8 minutes of the ambulance backing down the alley – all the way back to Quincy street, then backing down Quincy because cars are on both sides until it came to the alley right behind Lyman’s, turned around, turned its light and siren back on and kept on its merry way to the emergency call.

The entire time I kept thinking, surely they radioed back to central control to let them know they were delayed and another ambulance should be dispatched. However, once I heard the sirens being turned back on and heard them turn onto 14th Street and then onto Spring Road I was flabbergasted that whomever was waiting for the emergency services just had their wait time extended due to incompetence.

While I personally have no idea what navigation system DC Fire and EMS use to get them to their location, the driver should have realized that once they saw the alley it was a stupid idea to continue all the way to the end – alleys never leave much room for regular sized vehicles much less an ambulance. Additionally, if they were a ambulance stationed at the Columbia Heights station (which I cannot say if they were or not) they should be somewhat familiar with the area and know that this street turns into an alley.

I’m just amazed that this occurred and that another ambulance was not dispatched to assist the person(s) waiting. 8 minutes isn’t a short amount of time when we’re talking about an emergency – especially a life threatening one. Shame on the EMS personnel in this ambulance for A. not having realized where they were going and B. not having radioed in that they would not be able to answer this call due to a delay. Although, I cannot say if they radioed back – in which case if they had, shame on central dispatch for not having another ambulance attend to the emergency.

I’m all shamed out. Just wanted to share this experience…”

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