D.C. Ambulance Delay Raises New Concerns over Response Times

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – There are renewed concerns over slow ambulance response times in D.C. after three incidents in a little over a week where waits for ambulances were 20 minutes or more.

On Tuesday night in Northeast D.C., an injured police officer was taken in a patrol car to the hospital after his fellow officers gave up on waiting for an ambulance.

The city’s 911 center released a statement Wednesday saying that at the time there were no ambulance units available – and officers abandoned the wait after 20 minutes.

The standard for a D.C. ambulance to arrive on scene is eight minutes after it is dispatched, but in an incident last Thursday in southwest Washington, it took nearly three times as long.

The case involved an accident in which a motorcycle struck a car after making a u-turn out of a garage at 7th and E streets; witnesses said the motorcyclist went airborne and landed in the street. Firefighter paramedics and police tended to him in quick order, but fire department records show the victim – who suffered serious injuries – waited for 22 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

In a stabbing from a week ago Monday in southeast D.C. that ABC 7 News previously reported, the victim waited 28 minutes for an ambulance.

Mayor Muriel Bowser recently reiterated that the city’s recent decision to hire a new fire chief was, in part, to work on improving response times.

“We’re concerned about Fire and EMS,” she said, “that’s why we have a change in direction.”

However, the president of the D.C. ambulance union has repeatedly insisted that what the city really needs is additional ambulances and people to operate them.

“This is not going to get better, it’s simply go to get worse,” said union head Kenneth Lyons. “So, this is an issue this administration inherited, but it’s still an issue they’re going to have to deal with. “