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Aldermen sound alarm about Chicago ambulance shortage

Updated: May 5, 2014 8:51AM

The Chicago Fire Department would be required to investigate an apparent shortage of advanced life support ambulances and paramedics, and prepare a remediation plan, under a City Council order introduced this week.

Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Nick Sposato (36th), a former Chicago firefighter, are responding to a report last fall by Inspector General Joe Ferguson and to a recent joint investigation by WBBM-TV and the Better Government Association.

All three concluded Chicago needs more advanced life support ambulances to consistently meet response time standards.

The proposed order was introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Afterward, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he has asked the Fire Department to conduct a review of city ambulance services.

Chicago has 60 ALS ambulances, each staffed by two paramedics able to administer intravenous medication. They are equipped with heart-monitoring devices.

The city also has 15 basic life support ambulances, which don’t have medicine or monitoring equipment. Those are staffed by emergency medical technicians, who have less training and are permitted only to take patients to hospitals.

Emanuel has talked about ending that two-tiered system — which veteran paramedics call a dismal failure — and making all ambulances ALS.

The multiyear plan, which still needs union approval, would cost $750,000 .


Twitter: @fspielman

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