News, Patient Care

Chief Cites Cutbacks in Death of Toddler

SAN DIEGO – San Diego’s fire chief says service cutbacks increased the time it took paramedics to reach a toddler who choked to death on a gum ball.

But police got there within minutes and Fire Chief Javier Mainar said Wednesday he doesn’t know whether firefighters could have saved the boy if they’d arrived sooner.

Two-year-old Bentley Do of Mira Mesa died Tuesday night.

The family lives about a block from a San Diego fire station, but that crew was away on another call, filling in for another station whose engine was sidelined by a rotating series of service “brownouts” designed to save money.

Police arrived within five minutes of the 9-1-1 call and began CPR. Fire paramedics arrived 4 1/2 minutes later and took over but the child was pronounced dead at a hospital.