Local News

Jul 2, 2013 5:40 PM by Caroline Flores - cflores@kristv.com

6 Investigates: City's Solution to Ambulance Shortage

CORPUS CHRISTI - In February, we exposed a problem with a shortage of ambulances in Corpus Christi. The Fire Chief is addressing the issue, but his solution could create a new problem.

Right now Corpus Christi is experiencing an ambulance shortage.

"At times we find our self limited as the number of ambulances we do have available. And at times we run out of ambulances," said Fire Chief Robert Rocha.

After years of dealing with this shortage, Fire Chief Robert Rocha is finally addressing the issue and will two new ambulances in service next month. They'll be assigned to Fire station number 3 on Morgan, and fire station number 6 on Weber. While most firefighter/paramedics are glad they're going into service, it's the way the Chief is planning on staffing them that is causing concern.

"We will take personnel from fire stations and place them in town on the ambulance units," said Chief Rocha.

Each ambulance needs two people to run it. So this means four people will be pulled from other fire stations to help staff them. Fire personnel fear this will put the public at risk.

"What we're doing is we're actually reducing their protection by removing someone off of a truck," said Firefighter and Paramedic Lonnie Loosemore.

Fire Administration says many of the fire trucks are staffed with four people, but take one away from four different trucks, that becomes an issue. According to the Department of Labor, Fire Departments should abide by a "2 in 2 out" rule. Meaning while two people are inside fighting a fire two people need to be outside for safety reasons. Loosemore says if there are only three people they can't abide by this rule.

"So those guys are gonna be sitting outside waiting for the next available unit and so your property will be allowed to burn and not be saved until the next unit shows up," said Loosemore.

Chief Rocha says the fire department will have more than 40 new firefighters come next year to help combat this lack of staffing. But Loosemore and others says even if it's just a few months, the public will still be at risk.

The Firefighters Union has suggested the city hold off on putting the new ambulances into service until the new cadet class is ready.

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