By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An exclusive CBS 3 I-Team Investigation reveals that it took nearly 18 minutes for a Fire Department Medic Unit to arrive at 4th and Wolf Streets in South Philadelphia Friday night, while a Philadelphia Police officer, who suffered a serious spinal injury chasing a suspect lay waiting in the street.
Fire Department response records reveal that the call came in at 11:14 p.m. One minute later, Medic 7 and Engine 53, a pumper truck with an emergency medical technician but no ability to provide advanced care or transport, were dispatched. Records show Engine 53 arrived at 11:21, but it wasn’t until 11:32, 18 minutes after dispatch, that medic, equipped to treat and transport the injured officer got to the scene.
At least two eyewitnesses told CBS 3 about their concerns as they watched the injured officer, surrounded by police, in the street awaiting medics arrival.
Firefighters Union President Joe Schulle says the medics who responded are stationed in Center City and they were sent because closer medics, including a unit stationed just four blocks away, were tied up on other calls.
Schulle tells CBS 3, “National standards say units should be on location within 8 minutes, 90 percent of the time. This exemplifies the need for more medic units.”
Medic 7, with a three car police escort, treated and transported officer Rudy Yuille to Jefferson Hospital where, police say, he remains hospitalized.
Responding to a request for comment, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers told me the city recently proposed major improvements to the medic system.
“The changes we’re proposing, expanding the number of medic units, are paramount,” the Commissioner said.
“We need to get more medic units on the street.”
The Commissioner also noted that precious medic resources too often are wasted on needless calls. Friday night, he explained, two closer medic units were tied up responding to a call for a headache and a second call where no services whatsoever were needed.
New call-taking procedures and computer-assisted dispatch procedures, the Commissioner says, should help improve medic availability in the future.