Ambulance response at issue in Warren

City no longer has contracts for service

WARREN — When Gary Woodling called 911 for an ambulance shortly after 2:14 p.m. Jan. 28 because one of the members of the Warren Slovak Club collapsed from what club members believed was a heart attack, he expected one to arrive a few moments later.

Approximately 10 minutes later, Woodling called 911 again, trying to find out if an ambulance was coming to the club at 1707 Larchmont Ave. NE.

“I was standing next to the door, listening for the sounds of an emergency vehicle,” Woodling said. “There was nothing.”

This time he was told by a dispatcher at EMT Ambulance Company that no transport vehicle was available, but they would send a unit to the address as soon as possible.

At 2:33 p.m., nearly 20 minutes after the first phone call, Woodling called the Trumbull County 911 Center back saying he and other Slovak Club members would transport their friend to Trumbull Regional Medical Center themselves.

“We later learned it was not a heart attack,” Woodling said. “His blood pressure had dropped to such a low level that he collapsed.”

Councilman Dan Sferra, D-at Large, who was at the club when the member collapsed, said the 20-minute wait is unacceptable.

“We are fortunate in this case, but he could have died,” Sferra said.

What particularly upsets the councilman is they would not have known there was no ambulance available if someone had not called back to find out what was taking so long for one to arrive.

“No one in the city should have to wait that long,” he said. “No one should have to call back only to be told there has not been an ambulance sent.”

Ernie Cook, director of the Trumbull County 911 Center, said EMT Ambulance, a private ambulance operated bsaed at 421 South St. SE, was notified about the emergency run immediately after the center received the call.

According to 911 call records, the initial call for help was canceled before the caller got off the phone. The dispatching center received a second call about a minute later, at which time it took all of the information and contacted the ambulance service.

“When the caller reached us the third time, we connected them directly with EMT, who advised the caller they did not have anyone available,” Roger Laird, operation mangers of the Trumbull County 911 Center, said.

Cook said the dispatch center does not have contracts with ambulance services, but follows the recommendations of the communities they serve as to which ambulance services to call.

“It is up to the community,” Laird said. “Some communities have their own ambulance services through their fire departments. Other communities, like Hubbard City and Hubbard Township, have told us which ambulance services to call.”

Trumbull County 911 has contracted with Warren since 2015. It was told to send emergency ambulance calls to MedStar and EMT Ambulance. However, if there is no ambulance available, the companies are supposed to call other ambulance services for help, according to the contracts the city had with MedStar and EMT Ambulance.

Warren Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said the city had contracts with the two local ambulance services, but allowed them to lapse in October 2017.

“We chose not to renew the contracts, primarily because we no longer do dispatching,” Cantalamessa said. “We have a good relationship with Trumbull County 911. All we require is for them to work with reputable emergency services.”

Sferra said he wants to find out what happened in this situation and who is accountable if someone dies because no ambulance responds. The matter will be discussed at an upcoming police and fire committee meeting.

“It does not speak well for the city of Warren if a resident calls 911 and no one comes,” Sferra said.