Chicago addresses ambulance shortage by unveiling 5 new rigs
After Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the increase in ambulances, mayoral challenger Paul Vallas promised to add 25 more if he is elected
By EMS1 Staff
CHICAGO — The mayor of Chicago announced an increase in city ambulances, only to have a mayoral challenger up the ante with the promise of a bigger plan.
Emanuel said the locations of the new ambulances were carefully chosen based on response times, distance from hospitals and call volume, and that the designated areas “were then matched to firehouses that could take in an ambulance without construction.”
Mayoral challenger Paul Vallas said the increase in ambulances is not enough to fix the city’s response time, and promised that he would add 25 more ambulances to the department’s fleet over a four-year period if he is elected mayor.
“If you look at the five largest cities in the country per-capita, we have about 40 percent fewer ambulances than they have in those cities combined,” Vallas said. “The lack of ambulances, the lack of EMS personnel … really creates conditions in which you have delays. The other day … a 3-year-old was shot and the police had to transport this 3-year-old to the hospital because there was not an available ambulance.”
Vallas added that the increase in ambulances could be paid for with larger ambulance fees and a monetization of ambulances through “contract services.”
“If you are billing and collecting efficiently … each ambulance should pay for itself,” he said.
Vallas also accused Emanuel of “punishing” EMS providers for backing another mayoral candidate in 2015 by stalling the ambulance expansion.
Paramedic Pat Fitzmaurice slammed Emanuel, calling him an “abject failure on public safety.”
“We needed these ambulances four years ago. We should be adding 10 or 15 by now. The International Association of Firefighters did a study and recommended we need close to 100 to meet call demand,” he said.
The Chicago Fire Department currently has 80 advanced life support ambulances.