2 Fla. ambulance thefts in 4 days prompts changes
The rigs must remain running to keep the air conditioning on; they were were stolen while crews were inside a local hospital
By Dan Scanlan
The Florida Times-Union
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A 54-year-old man who said he was tired of waiting at Baptist Medical Center South was arrested late Wednesday after a city rescue unit was stolen and found in front of his Mandarin home, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
This is the second time this week that a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department unit has been taken from a hospital and abandoned nearby, according to police and fire officials.
It started Saturday with a theft at St. Vincent’s Medical Center that was initially deemed the first in years.
“That moment represented a true anomaly,” fire department spokesman Tom Francis said. “We had not had any apparatus stolen in almost 50 years.”
It occurred just after 2 a.m. at St. Vincent’s emergency room at 1 Shircliff Way, according to the police report. Paramedics had just taken a patient there and were inside finishing paperwork when the unit, which was left running, was taken.
The unit was tracked to the 3200 block of St. Johns Avenue, undamaged and nothing taken.
In the latest heist, Ezickel Ford was charged with auto theft. The Sheriff’s Office said the rescue unit was stolen from its parking spot in front of Baptist South at 14550 Old St. Augustine Road. Police tracked it to the 6400 block of Cordial Drive, finding Ford seated nearby on the front steps.
He told police that “the rescue door was open and it was running and I just wanted to go home,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Francis said rescue units must remain running when they get to accident scenes or emergency rooms so the air conditioning stays on to keep patients and electronic equipment cool. So the personnel attached to both were not disciplined.
Since each rescue unit has a tracking system, dispatchers can trace the vehicles. But now that two have been stolen, the fire department will institute new fail-safe mechanisms to eliminate this “criminal activity that individuals believe they have the right to participate in,” Francis said.
©2014 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
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