As violent crime rates continue to rise in Chicago, residents have complained that ambulances are ill-equipped to address medical emergencies, prompting two aldermen to request an investigation into the city’s ambulance fleet.
Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward) and Nick Sposato (36th Ward) announced plans April 2 to investigate the Chicago Fire Department’s supply of advanced life support ambulances, which are stocked with medical equipment that can be used to treat severe conditions on the road. If the City Council approves the proposal, all Chicago ambulances would have to be ALS-equipped.
Of the CFD’s 75 ambulances, 60 are ALS-equipped and the other 15 are basic life support ambulances, which are operated by firefighters or emergency medical technicians–not trained paramedics–and are meant to transport patients with less severe health concerns, Sposato said. They are not equipped to handle critical situations such as gunshot wounds or heart attacks, whereas the ALS ambulances are.
Sposato, a former firefighter, said BLS ambulances are often sent to the scene of a fire, but patients usually need more advanced care, resulting in delayed treatment because of the time spent waiting for ALS ambulances to arrive.
It would cost an estimated $750,000 to convert 15 BLS ambulances to ALS, which Fioretti said would cover equipment and personnel costs because ALS ambulances are required to have a paramedic on board.
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