CHICAGO (CBS) — Waiting for an ambulance to arrive for a loved one can feel like eternity, and our CBS 2 investigation found that thousands of people have waited much longer than the city’s stated goal of six minutes.
CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman wanted to know what the city was going to do about slow response times. She went straight to the top.
Estrella Caburnay’s daughter was shocked when it took three calls to 911 and 30 minutes to get an ambulance for her mother she thought was having a stroke.
“They did apologize, and they said it was a very big issue that the need more ambulances,” said Bernadette Caburnay.
Tina Williams died after an ambulance took more than eight minutes to get to her home – two minutes longer than the Fire Department’s stated goal, and after five desperate calls to 911.
In the last call, Tina’s granddaughter, Arieal, shrieked: “Where are you? She’s bleeding out. And we need an ambulance. What’s taking you all so long?”
At a news conference Wednesday following a City Council meeting, Zekman asked the mayor about it.
Lightfoot: “Oh, we’re joined by Ms. Zekman – I wonder what that’s about.”
Zekman: “We’ve been reporting on ambulance delays for a long time now. This, week we reported that a woman died – bled to death on the steps of her home waiting for an ambulance. What are you going to do about this?”
Lightfoot: “We know that we need more ambulances, and it’s my expectation, when we finalize a new fire contract, there will be more ambulances coming on line.”
Zekman: “They say we need 20 more ambulances to be on par with other cities.”
Lightfoot: “I’m not going to negotiate the number here in a press conference. Be assured, we know that we need more.”
That leaves open the questions of how many new ambulances will be brought on line, how long it will take, and how the city will pay for them. One source could be from fees the city charges for ambulances services – about $200 million a year.