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This week, the District has been besieged by relentless heat. It’s uncomfortable, perhaps even more so, for those on the verge of death. When that’s the case, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, and registered nurses think D.C. ambulances shouldn’t be a very uncomfortable 107 degrees. In a statement released today, union leaders for those groups are urging Mayor Vince Gray to fix some of the District’s broken emergency transports:
“Last week, seven of the city’s Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department 25 basic life support ambulances—or 28 percent—were out of service. Many ambulances suffered from dysfunctional air-conditioning systems. One ambulance without a working air-conditioner was ordered back in service by a deputy chief even though a Department of Health inspector ordered it off the road after finding the patients’ compartment was 107 degrees. Another ambulance had a makeshift box fan to try to cool the patient compartment when its air-conditioner did not work.”
The labor groups that signed the letter—National Nurses United, the DC Nurses Association, and the D.C. Fire Fighters Association Local 36—say they’re bringing up the hobbled transports because the city is ub its “second heat wave of the summer” weather season and “it is simply unacceptable for patients in need of emergency care to either not have an ambulance to transport them when needed or to have to be transported in an ambulance without a functioning air-conditioner.”
We’ve reached out to the mayor’s office for a comment. In the meantime, try not to get sick in the heat—a stifling and stuffy ride to the hospital may make it worse.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery