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Baseball Game Highlights Latest in D.C. Ambulance Shortage

WASHINGTON, DC (MyFoxDC) - Thousands of fans who packed into Nationals Park Sunday had no idea that if they became ill, there may not have been an ambulance readily available to help them.

And that's not all.

There may not have been a paramedic nearby either.

DC Fire and Ems officials say they've been been pulling ambulances off the street since Friday because of faulty air conditioning. So Sunday, there were only two ambulances assigned to Nats Park, one for the home team and one for the visiting team.

The two normally assigned to transport fans were out of service.

"People are sweating, people with young children, the elderly. That's just not good," Elyse Petroni says.

Amy Sheetz agrees.

"Obviously there's going to be a situation that are going to happen. It's so hot. I don't know what protocol is be I think they should be around just in case,"Sheetz says.

And the Fire department isn't just short on ambulance, they need more people to staff them.

Eight medic units were downgraded Sunday because there was not a paramedic available.

That means those 8 units would not be able to provide advanced life support if it was needed.

If was even worse Saturday, when besides the medic unit downgrades, 4 paramedic engine companies were downgraded, and two battalion chiefs were out of service.

The 2nd Vice President of the Firefighters' Association, Dabney Hudson, says it's time to fill some 200 vacancies.

"It's inexcusable in a fully funded department. The funds are there, but the department refuses to fill these vacancies, and it's directly hampering our ability to respond to emergencies."

Wilson says this staff shortage isn't a critical safety concern, because everyone on the ambulance can provide some medical assistance.

But the union reps say it's the most seriously ill people who stand to lose the most, if these shortages continue.

Wilson says the department is trying to hire more paramedics, but that may not happen until the end of August.
 



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