News

Video: Criticism Increases Over Detroit Ambulance Maintenance

DETROIT – Fire officials confirm very little progress has been made in improving EMS response times in light of city council scrutiny, according to the The Detroit News.

Detroit’s city council questioned police and fire officials on Monday about EMS response times and apparatus out of service for mechanical reasons. Detroit EMS has an average response time of 12 minutes according to The News and it is the same average the city used in a audit of last year.

According to The News the 12 minute average is almost 50 percent higher than the national average of eight minutes. Equipment issues last year led to EMS personnel responding to calls in staff cars. Two deaths during the Christmas holiday are attributed to delayed ambulance response. Former fire commissioner James Mack had promised to fix the problem of out of service ambulances by hiring 20 technicians. Mack also promised to have paramedics return to service quickly between calls and to better educate the public on calling 911.

Since Mack’s firing, officials have reported that they are not sure when they will be able to have all ambulances in working order and back on the street.

Wisam Zeineh, president of Detroit’s EMS Association, has told the city council that it is a travesty that they are still discussing vehicle maintenance problems for three months. The city council spoke on a number of possibilities to reduce the EMS response time, such as maintenance, staffing, new equipment and software, and dealign with non-emergemcy calls.

Interim Fire Chief Fred Wheeler proposed changing the vendor contract to include multiple vendors who can work on ambulances. Wheeler stated that mulitple vendors can handle additional vehicles if the primary vendor is at capacity.