CHICAGO (CBS) — The city needs more ambulances – Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged the problem just last year.
She told CBS 2 at the time that more ambulances were expected when the new Fire Department contract was finalized.
That day has arrived, and guess what – there won’t be a single ambulance added. Not one. CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar talked Wednesday night with the whistleblower who has been sounding the alarm on an ambulance shortage for years.
“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,” Mayor Lightfoot told Pam Zekman in December 2019.
But the mayor’s new contract with the Chicago firefighters’ union doesn’t add a single additional ambulance to the streets, despite what she told our cameras last year.
“Misled,” said CFD Paramedic Field Chief Patrick Fitzmaurice. “Promises not fulfilled.”
Fitzmaurice has called city leaders out time and time again about the ambulance shortage.
“The mayor was asked whether we would get more ambulances and she flat out said, ‘Yes we would,’” Fitzmaurice said. “She failed to fulfill that promise.”
Right now, there are 80 ambulances in the department’s fleet. Fitzmaurice argues there should be closer to 100.
“Where’s the promise?” Fitzmaurice said. “You have the citizens of Chicago the people in need of an ambulance.”
The CBS 2 Investigators have exposed delays in ambulance response times for year.
It took five calls to 911 and eight critical minutes for an ambulance to get to Tina Williams, who was bleeding out on a front porch. The department goal is a six-minute response
It took an ambulance 30 minutes and 19 seconds to get to Estrella Caburnay, suspected of having a stroke. She survived
“One of these days it’s going to happen – she’s going to be asked why somebody died waiting for an ambulance,” Fitzmaurice said.
The new contract is only for a year, and the Mayor’s office released a statement saying in part that Mayor Lightfoot looks forward to getting back to the bargaining table.
“The men and women of the Chicago Fire Department have been on the front lines of a crisis that is entirely without precedent in our city. And while Chicago is experiencing significant financial impact due to the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to announce that we have reached a short-term agreement with the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 to ensure that our first responders receive the fair wages and benefits they deserve while still being judicious with taxpayer resources.
“Under the agreement, which remains subject to ratification, members would receive backpay and raises in line with those received by other City employees. As part of the agreement, members would increase their contribution for healthcare during active service and retirement among other reforms – changes that other public safety unions saw in their new CBAs. Additionally, the agreement includes five more ambulances than in the previous contract, memorializing a minimum of 80 ambulances in the City’s fleet to ensure we have the highest quality emergency medical services needed to serve Chicago’s residents. The agreement expires next summer, and we look forward to returning to the bargaining table soon to work in collaboration with Local 2 on operational reforms needed to modernize and continue the excellence of CFD.”