D.C. Fire and EMS Receives New Ambulances

By Mila Mimica
|  Friday, Aug 16, 2013  |  Updated 11:21 PM EDT
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News4's I-Team spoke with D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe who said new ambulances are on the way.

News4's I-Team spoke with D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe who said new ambulances are on the way.

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Just days after two ambulances caught fire during emergency responses, D.C. Fire and EMS reported they have ordered new ambulance vehicles -- but would not say just how many would be joining the fleet.

Officials confirmed the vehicles would arrive within the next couple of weeks and say the department usually orders new ambulances every year, but 2013 is a little different.

"[We're going to announce] an unprecedented number of ambulances arriving very soon," D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe told News4's I-Team. "People have to understand this stuff takes time. It takes a year to build an ambulance and then we have to go through the procurement process ... these ambulances, we've been pursuing for quite a while."

News4 and NBCWashington.com have extensively covered recent issues with D.C. Fire and EMS including understaffing, engine fires, and delayed response times.

"We've been working for the last year trying to get the right number of people, the right number of equipment, the right number of employees and now that hard work is beginning to come to fruition," Ellerbe said.

News4's I-Team investigated ambulance delays following the death of a 53-year-old man last December. An ambulance was deployed to his home 10 minutes after an initial call, but a paramedic to conduct "Advanced Life Support" was not on board. That crew arrived 20 minutes after the first 911 call, and the man died five days later.

Ellerbe testified in March only 58 of the District's 111 ambulances were in service, and only 245 paramedics were employed, short of a target of 300.

In May, an ambulance broke down along Interstate 295 while transporting a gunshot victim.

A report released earlier this summer states since 2011, only 16 of 424 D.C. Fire shifts have been fully staffed -- while 911 calls in the District have increased by 22 percent.

MORE ON NBCWASHINGTON.COM

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