Ambulance Got Lost, Took Dead Runner to Wrong ER


 
 

Dave Newbart | | Wednesday, October 24, 2007


CHICAGO-- The ambulance transporting the only runner who died in the Chicago Marathon earlier this month got lost on the way to the hospital, had to flag down another ambulance to get directions and then ended up at the wrong emergency room, authorities said Tuesday.

The ambulance from Niles was one of 30 suburban crews called into the city to assist when record heat caused 300 runners to seek treatment Oct. 7.

But before the ambulance could make it to a staging area set up by the Chicago Fire Department, it was flagged down to assist a runner who had collapsed near 15th and Ashland.

The team of two paramedics shocked the man -- Chad Schieber, 35, a police officer from Midland, Mich. -- with a defibrillator multiple times.

From my understanding he was unresponsive the entire time, Niles fire chief Barry Mueller said.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the crew called Chicago dispatch shortly before noon to say the man was in full cardiac arrest, but the crew said it didn t need help because a doctor and another paramedic were already on the scene.

Langford said the crew apparently worked on Schieber for 10 minutes before calling back to say they planned to take him to the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. Langford noted the crew did not ask for directions.

But the ambulance driver began heading south on Ashland -- away from the hospital. The crew claims it then radioed dispatchers seeking directions but got no response, Mueller said.

That s not unusual; the airwaves could be jammed, Mueller said.

Langford says there is no record the crew radioed in. He wondered why the crew didn t radio a suburban dispatch center or simply call 911 to get directions. Mueller said those steps weren t taken because after his crew had driven a couple of blocks, they flagged down a city ambulance and got directions.

However, the crew apparently drove by the UIC Medical Center, 1740 W. Taylor, because they were unable to find the emergency room entrance.

They ended up a few blocks away when they saw the emergency room sign for the West Side Veterans Administration Hospital at 820 S. Damen. That hospital is not part of Chicago s emergency response network, although it has a fully working ER, officials said.

Neither Langford nor Mueller could say how long it took to transport Schieber to the hospital, or whether it would have helped to get there sooner. An autopsy found he had a significant heart defect.

Schieber s family members declined to comment Tuesday. Marathon officials did not respond to calls seeking comment.

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