Problems plague DC ambulances

5:43 PM, Aug 16, 2013   |    comments
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Brand new ambulances are being rolled out in DC.

WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Problems plague DC ambulances, but still, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, Paul Quander, says there's no crisis.

However, if you talk to the firefighters union, they say the situation is deplorable and pathetic.

And the International Firefighters Union called DC's EMS system one of the worst in the country.

"Employees are using duct tape and fishing wire to string these vehicles together."

Sgt. Dabney Hudson with the local firefighter's union says paramedics had to drive a pickup truck similar, on two separate occasions this week, to meet an ambulance in order to transport the patient because their ambulance broke down.

Public Safety and Justice Deputy Mayor Paul Quander sat down with WUSA9's Surae Chinn Quander, "I'm unaware of those facts you've just showed me. I haven't seen any of that, whatsoever."

In response to the IAFF's distinction of 'one of the worst in the country,'

Quander, "I doubt it's the worst if they are providing the services. I'm more interested in how do you fix the issue."

WUSA9 obtained a photo of new ambulances that are getting ready to be rolled out this month.
But the union says they won't have the paramedics to staff them.

Quander, "we need bodies. It's a crisis the fire chief has manufactured."

When two ambulances caught fire, Quander called for a police investigation.

"when you're driving a vehicle around that's got a metal sign jammed in the hood, another unit catches fire and the first thing they say, it's your fault without doing a proper investigation. It's irresponsible."

Quander counters, "I want to know what the facts are. I don't want to speculate, I want to know what happened."

Hudson, "the only thing we can hope is Deputy Quander was sincere when he said someone should be held accountable and the person that needs to be held accountable is the fire chief."

Chief Ellerbe is not perfect, neither am I. No one is. But I believe he is committed."

According to the firefighter's union, the District is short more than 120 paramedics.

There should be 350 but the department has only 217. The union says, there hasn't been a hire in 2 1/2 years.

Thirty new ambulances are expected in the months ahead. Fire Chief Ellerbe could not be reached for comment. Ellerbe is expected to announce new paramedic hires and roll out new ambulances in a matter of days.

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