After a Cleveland woman died in a violent car crash early Thursday morning, newsnet5.com asked why it took first responders several minutes to arrive to the scene with a life saving tool.
But while police, EMS and firefighters arrived by 12:56 a.m., the Jaws of Life did not arrive for another six minutes, after newsnet5.com learned dispatchers had to divert a crew with that tool from another call.
WATCH: Cleveland police, fire use their hands to try and pry open a door to rescue a woman trapped in a car. Today I asked why it took a crew with the Jaws of Life several extra minutes to get to that accident: http://bit.ly/1P9Zrgb
Posted by Derick Waller on Thursday, February 4, 2016
“I can tell you that as recently as 2013, there was a full service Cleveland fire rescue squad, with the Jaws of Life, just down the block there,” Cleveland Association of Firefighters President Frank Szabo said.
Rescue Squad 3 closed in 2013. It was housed with Fire Station 22 at 7300 Superior Ave., the same team that responded first last night. Today, an ambulance is still stationed at that building.
“The reality of the situation is this: service reductions means less service,” Szabo said.
On Thursday afternoon, there were still remnants from that crash and a memorial, where Judy Lowe came to remember her friend.
“If they had the Jaws of Life everywhere they’re supposed to be, maybe she’d probably still be here,” Lowe said.
Back in 2013, Fire Department Spokesman Larry Gray said the rescue squad’s closing would have no impact on service.
“It’s not going to - at no point, at no means, not supply the residents with the medical support that they need,” Gray said at the time.
Today, we asked him about last night’s accident. He said those services were moved three years ago to areas of Cleveland with greater call volumes.
“These are situations that are really thought over carefully to the benefit of the residents of the city,” Gray said.
But, overall, city budget data shows there are now about 120 fewer fire department personnel than five years ago, from about 872 to 751.
“Those reductions that you’ve seen since 2011, all boots on the ground,” Szabo said.
While there is no way to know for sure if those six minutes would have made a difference, the situation does raise the concern of funding. This week, Mayor Frank Jackson proposed a half-percent increase in the income tax, money that does help fund police, fire or EMS.
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