CHICAGO — The mayor of Chicago is making efforts to follow through with a promise he made four years ago to expand the city’s ambulance fleet.
Chicago Sun Times reported that Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he wanted to add “at least” five more ambulances in an effort to reduce response times, and gave Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago until March 31 to tell him exactly how many ambulances are needed.
“Ensuring that Chicago has the highest quality emergency medical services and rapid ambulance response times is a top priority. We are committed to adding up to five new ambulances to our fleet,” Commissioner Santiago said. “The ALS Ambulance Committee is conducting an evaluation of the future locations of the additional ambulances. I will make our recommendations to the mayor in this quarter.”
Local 2 President Jim Tracy said the expansion is long overdue:
On Jan. 2, the city was out of ambulances and Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) could be heard asking for any available ambulances to respond to a still and box,” Tracy said in an email. “Ambulance 7 was on special duty at Humboldt Park and was released to respond, as was Ambulance 33, which was at the Quinn Fire Academy. Waiting until there are no ambulances available, then releasing them from special duty puts all of Chicago citizens at a serious risk.”
The effort to expand comes after failed attempts, which were blamed on both the city and union leaders for not following through with hiring more paramedics and assigning representatives to oversee ambulance expansion.
EMS director Joe Davilo urged officials to quit blaming each other and focus on the needed expansion.
The city has the ability to put five more ambulances up tomorrow,” Davilo said. “To say it’s an issue with us is a false statement.”