WASHINGTON - The District is facing an ambulance shortage crisis that is desperately begging for an answer.
In the past week, two infants in distress and in need of CPR had to be transported on a fire truck to the hospital because ambulances were too far away or simply unavailable.
“Does this concern you at all? Is this something that you’re going to be looking into?” FOX 5’s Marina Marraco asked D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“Yeah, we’ve been looking at it for eight months,” said Bowser. “We need more ambulances, and we knew that when I took office. It's not new."
The mayor says more ambulances are needed, yet she has added several recently to serve the entire city and many of those units have been out of commission for weeks.
“Why are they still out of service?” Marraco asked.
“Well, it’s not something that we’re going to be able to discuss right now, but we’ll have to have a comprehensive program to overhaul ambulances,” Bowser said.
On Monday, a 1-month-old began foaming at the mouth. The baby’s mother waited for a fire engine three miles away to render aid. Once there, crews waited 14 minutes for an ambulance that never showed up. This latest incident comes after a 5-month-old died last Thursday after firefighters gave up waiting for an ambulance that was seven miles away.
“Don’t forget, ambulances also spend a large chunk of each day at hospitals, with patients who are already at the ER waiting to be transferred over to the hospital and the doctor,” said Deputy City Administrator Kevin Donahue.
FOX 5’s Marina Marraco responded: “But Engine 30 doesn't have that issue. Engine 30 is down two ambulances. It’s the engine that sees the most calls in the country, that sees the most calls in the District and they have one basic life support, one advanced life support. They're down one of each and they're transporting a child who died on an engine being intercepted by the closest ambulance, which was seven miles away.”
Donahue replied, “And we need to make sure ambulances are not seven miles away."
On peak hours, there should be 49 ambulances on the streets of the District. There were 39 on the day the baby died.
“Is it acceptable that D.C. is having to call Prince George’s County, on one day 14 times -- 14 ambulances had to come into the District to serve your residents, your constituents?” asked Marraco.
“We’re going to work relentlessly to make sure that we can rely on our own resources, on our own ambulances, and we have every option on the table that we’re looking at to make sure that’s the case,” said Donahue. “If they need a transport, it's not acceptable to not have an ambulance available to them to be able to make that transport.”
D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean said he hopes to add an additional 14 ambulances in October.