Philadelphia didn’t have any ambulances available Tuesday afternoon. The Fire Department confirmed to the Daily News that they were out of medic units for 11 minutes. The city was also out of ambulances later in the day when a food truck’s propane tank exploded in Feltonville, injuring 13.
This is, apparently, rather common! “Look, we run out of medics almost every day, especially during the summer on a hot day,” Firefighters union vice president Tim McShea says.
It’s all part of a war between Mayor Michael Nutter and the Fire Department, who cannot agree on staffing levels.
The Daily News previously reported that 84 percent of the nearly 300,000 emergencies that the Fire Department responded to in 2012 were medical emergencies. The department has 1,912 firefighters, but only 248 medics.
In March, the Nutter administration sought approval from the Civil Service Commission to begin sending one paramedic and one EMT out on advanced life-support calls, based on recommendations from outside advisers. The city had been sending two paramedics, based on national standards.
The administration argued that the change would lead to more ambulances being available; the union countered that the move was about hiring more EMTs, who make less money.
There doesn’t seem to be an end to this. On the plus side, we have been warned in advance that the city will likely run out of ambulances on the 4th of July.