Chicago mayor accused of breaking ambulance-expansion promise

EMS leaders said nothing has been done to expand ambulance services and hire more paramedics


By EMS1 Staff

CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel received backlash from EMS providers who said he failed to fulfill his promise to add more ALS ambulances. 

Paramedics expected the addition of at least five ALS ambulances by July 1, 2016, reported the Chicago Sun Times. Following the end of a five-year firefighters contract, the city upgraded its BLS ambulances to ALS; the move would free up firefighters and allow more paramedics to be hired. However, little has been done to push the ambulance expansion forward or hire more paramedics. 

“It was completely dropped. It died. Nobody on the street has heard anything about that since then. It’s crazy,” paramedic field chief Rich Raney said.

Chief Raney said the shortage in ambulances has caused dispatchers to call ambulances who are further away. 

“They are not available. . . . they have to send ambulances from way far away to the downtown area to cover because there’s not enough ambulances,” Chief Raney said. 

The shortage has forced paramedics to work overtime, breaking the 24 hours on and 72 hours off system.

“It’s unbelievable the amount of overtime these guys are being forced to work. It’s not like, `Hey, do you want to make extra money?’ It’s kind of like, `We want you to work. I’m busy. Sorry, you have to work,’” Chief Raney said.

The city’s last paramedic class graduated in 2014; there’s been three firefighter classes since.

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