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Freezing Battery Victim Waits 27 Minutes For Chicago Ambulance

Author: Pam Zekman

(CBS) – Even as the Emanuel Administration promises to put more ambulances on the street, some patients continue waiting long periods of time for paramedics to take them to the hospital.

With four ambulances already freed up this week from training duties, on Friday five more reserve units were added to the fleet to combat excessive response times exceeding the goal of 6 minutes.

Just this Wednesday, a woman hit by a car waited 32 minutes for an ambulance.

“Obviously, I don’t want to see that in any part of the city, whether it’s cold or hot or the temperature is live-able,” Mayor Emanuel told CBS 2’s Pam Zekman, who has previous investigations into ambulance wait times in Chicago.

On New Year’s Eve, emergencies escalated.

For example, on the Northwest Side, a battery victim waited 27 minutes for an ambulance — in the elements. One observer told the city’s 9-1-1 center the victim could get hypothermia.

Patrick Fitzmaurice, a paramedic field chief who checks out trouble spots, was the observer. He said the blood was literally freezing on the victim’s face.

He blames Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago for failing to add new ambulances, as promised three years ago.

“We need more action. And that is going to come when the mayor orders the commissioner to do it,” Fitzmaurice says.

In response to Zekman’s reports, the mayor has ordered the fire commissioner to submit a plan for the increase in three months.

“They are going to get all the resources they need to continue to do and serve every part of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said Friday.

He declined further comment.

Santiago declined to do an on-camera interview. A spokesperson says he is working to meet that March deadline.

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