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Exclusive I-Team Investigation: Airport Medic Response Times

(credit: CBS) Walt Hunter
Eyewitness News Reporter Walt Hunter is one of the market's ...
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By Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Response times for the first three Medic units called from outside the airport to respond to an aircraft emergency Thursday night raise questions about whether the city needs more medics to deal with major incidents, according to the President of the Philadelphia Firefighters’ Union.

Joe Schulle says the times, ranging from 11 to 18 minutes for the three Advanced Life Support Units, are too long.

The incident began when a US Airways flight aborted its takeoff, its front landing gear collapsing, passengers sliding down safety chutes to safety (See Previous Story).

There was only one minor injury.

An exclusive CBS 3 I-Team investigation revealed the three medic units, assigned to stations in West Philadelphia, Chinatown and South Philadelphia took more than 18, 11 and 16 minutes respectively to arrive.

“The medic units that were available were from a great distance,” Schulle told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter, “It’s absolutely a reason for concern.”

But Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers explained that Medic 30, assigned to the airport, arrived immediately, assisted by 15 firefighters who are trained as EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians).

The medics from outside the airport, he added, basically were called as a precaution.

“We’re happy with the overall job when it comes to medic units,” the Commissioner told Hunter.

“Of course, you would always like to have more.”

Regarding the response, the Commissioner stated, “We got high marks, it’s not a concern.”

Ayers explained that if the incident were more serious, he could have activated a region-wide response that would also have brought medics from nearby Delaware County.

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