By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Top city leaders, including Mayor Michael Nutter, are speaking about improvements in the Fire Department Medic system, following an exclusive CBS 3 I-Team Investigation.
CBS 3 Investigative Reporter Walt Hunter revealed that a Philadelphia Police officer, suffering a serious spinal injury, lay on a South Philadelphia street desperately waiting for medics who did not arrive for 18 minutes (See Previous Story).
City Councilman James Kenney, calling for reforms in medic response, told Hunter, “They try to sugarcoat this, but they can’t sugarcoat it, that officer lay on the ground for 18 minutes.”
Councilman Dennis O’Brien adding, “The fact that this was a police officer just underscores the fact, this could happen to anyone.”
While a first responding EMT did arrive on a pumper truck in seven minutes, it took 18 minutes for the medics with the equipment and ambulance needed to treat the officer who couldn’t stand or walk.
The I-Team has also learned from fire officials just how thin medic coverage was stretched in South Philadelphia Friday night.
When the call was received for the injured officer at 4th and Wolf Streets, the nearest available unit was Medic 7 assigned to 22d and Market Streets in Center City.
However, officials explained, Medic 7 was on a call at Front and Lehigh in Kensington, and, as the unit left to answer another call at 56th and Christian Streets in Southwest Philadelphia, they were redirected to help the officer. Medic 7 then drove for miles through North Philadelphia, Center City and South Philadelphia, arriving in 18 minutes.
“We wouldn’t want that for a police officer or anyone else,” Mayor Michael Nutter told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter, referring to the response time.
The Mayor explained that other units were on duty in South Philadelphia, but two of the closest were tied up on needless calls, including person complaining of a headache.
Mayor Nutter explained that the city is already moving forward with plans to hire more medics, put more units on the street and change dispatching procedures, so priority calls get top attention. He also reminded the public not to call for medics unless there is a real medical need.
“We are making those improvements right now,” the Mayor stated, “we will revolutionize EMS in the City of Philadelphia.”
Nutter added the medic improvements are included in his latest budget proposal, but it will require City Council approval and funding to make them a reality.