Investigation reveals Cleveland EMS's staffing woes

According to an investigative news team, Cleveland EMS routinely takes ambulances out of service due to staffing shortages

By EMS1 Staff

CLEVELAND — An investigative news team is watching Cleveland EMS closely after reports of short staffing.

According to multiple sources,'s I-Team investigation found that Cleveland EMS routinely takes ambulances out of service due to staffing shortages. The latest staffing shortage, according to the team's findings, occurred during the most recent NFL game between the Browns and Indians downtown.

"For weeks, the I-Team has been pressing for an explanation of how often the city falls short on ambulances," their report said. "One request came back with an answer of 'no records.'"

To help make sense of the problem, the team met with EMS Commissioner Nicole Carlton on Tuesday.

"She said she doesn't keep track of how often EMS falls below targets for ambulances on the street," the team said.

However, Carlton said the city's response times have gone down.

"Our response times have gone down an average of over two minutes, which to us is a significant decrease in response times to medical emergencies," Carlton said. "And also for the life-threatening emergencies, we're down below the national average."

The investigative team found the EMS department has openings for about 10% of its staff, and city hall said they plan on filling the jobs soon.

"Since the passage of Issue 32, the division of EMS has lost over 120 people," the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees said. "This has resulted in insufficient personnel to staff EMS operations. Remaining employees are overworked and underpaid, while being relied on to keep the division operational. Those who have left, say they left due to low wages, lack of addressing the issue of mental health, poor management and an unresolved contract – where the city owes our members over $2 million in back pay."

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