Fla. mayor addresses aging ambulance fleet
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the city’s ambulance fleet, which is the oldest in the region, hasn’t been updated due to a half-billion dollar revenue shortfall
By EMS1 Staff
TAMPA, Fla. — The mayor of Tampa addressed the city’s aging ambulance fleet and why it has not been updated.
After an ABC Action News investigation found that Tampa’s ambulance fleet is the oldest in the region, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the economy is to blame.
“We just lived through the worst recession since the Great Depression. Obviously, we have to prioritize,” he said.
The investigation also found that the Community Investment Tax collected millions of dollars over more than 20 years that could have been used to fund new ambulances, but instead went to a new park, which Buckhorn said would increase private investments by millions of dollars.
“We were struggling with the loss of half a billion dollars in revenue,” he said. “As mayor, you have to make these decisions. You try to give the departments what they need, it's never enough. But you do what you have to do, and you work hard at maintaining the assets that you have.”
According to the investigation, however, the aging fleet is not maintained properly by the city.
A 2007 ambulance that had 229,000 miles had been in the shop 16 times in two years, and was three weeks overdue for maintenance when it broke down in 2016 outside of the home of Richard Bateman, who had suffered a heart attack.
Bateman later died after it took nearly an hour to get him to the hospital, and his wife Amy is pushing for the city to do more.
“These ambulances need to be updated and maintained. They should work. They should work at all times,” she said.
Buckhorn is leaving office in May, and said the next mayor will “have a great opportunity to add to the fleet.”
All four mayoral candidates are demanding the ambulance fleet be upgraded.