Archive | May, 2012

Woman charged with stealing city ambulance from South Side hospital

Posted on 29 May 2012 by wyoskibum

CHICAGO, IL – A Chicago woman has been charged with stealing a Chicago Fire Department ambulance from St. Bernard Hospital in the Englewood neighborhood late Sunday and crashing it several blocks away, authorities said.

Police said this morning that Cassie Weathersby, 30, of the 1600 block of North Mango Avenue, took Ambulance 14 from outside the hospital in the 300 block of West 64th Street around 10:50 p.m.

She has been charged with stealing the vehicle, driving on a suspended license, and driving under the influence of alcohol, police said. Judge Israel Desierto ordered Weathersby held on $25,000 bond in court today. She is scheduled to appear in court again on June 1.

According to Officer Ron Gaines, a police spokesman, the woman fled about a mile east across the Dan Ryan Expressway in the ambulance before crashing into a vehicle in the 6700 block of South Indiana Avenue.

The woman, who wasn’t injured in the crash, was taken into custody at that time.

It was unclear what led up to the theft.


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Motorcyclist Dies in Collision with Ambulance

Posted on 29 May 2012 by wyoskibum

SUNSET PARK, NY — A Brooklyn man died Saturday evening after colliding with an ambulance on his motorcylce just blocks away from his home.

Jesus Santiago, 46, was riding his motorcycle in the vincinty of Fourth Avenue and 63rd Street, when he was struck by an ambulance around 6:21 p.m., police said.

Officers found him unconscious and unresponsive at the scene, and Santiago was transported to Maimonides Medical Center. He was prounounced dead upon arrival.

Witnesses said that Santiago was headed home and had the green light as he headed westbound on 63rd Street, where he lived just a block and a half from the accident site.

The ambulance, which was traveling northbound on Fourth Avenue, chirped its sirens as it approached the intersection, but it appeared Santiago didn’t hear it, said Damaris Baez, 38, a witness and neighbor. At the last second, she said, he tried to swerve out of the way, but the ambulance threw him from the bike.

“After it happened I didn’t even move,” said Baez on Sunday. “I was in shock. I couldn’t sleep last night. I was hearing the sirens, the motorcylce, the ‘bang.’ I had all the images in my head,” she said.

A friend of Santiago’s said he had three children, one grown up and 26, and a young daughter and son.

George Fernandez, 52, a neighbor who lives on the block, said he’d see Santiago walk his son home from school every day. “He was a man’s man. He did his job with his family, he did his job going to work every day,” said Fernandez.

He said Fourth Avenue was “turning into a drag strip,” and that Santiago wasn’t an avid motorcyclist, that he just used it occassionally. “He only rode his bike to get some air,” said Fernandez.

An FDNY spokesman said that the ambulance involved in the accident — which was from Maimonides Medical Center — was responding to a call.

“The ambulance was going to a call, to assist another ambulance that had a combative patient,” said the FDNY. When asked if the ambulance involved in the accident had lights and sirens on, he said, “I would assume so.”

Police said an investigation is ongoing, but that no criminality was suspected.



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Paramedics: Pocatello Ambulances Are At The Breaking Point

Posted on 29 May 2012 by wyoskibum

POCATELLO, Idaho — Paramedics in Pocatello say they are overwhelmed trying to keep up with an ever increasing amount of emergencies.

“We’ve reached the breaking point where we can’t do anymore with the efficiency. It’s coming to the point where we can’t provide the kind of service we would like with the amount of resources we have,” Paramedic Greg White said.

The emergency calls barely gives ambulance crews a chance to breathe, let alone train.

“It used to be that we would try to plan our training and stuff like that but we just haven’t had the chance to do the training we would like because of the amount of calls that we’re going on,” White said.

And that inability to fully train for worst case scenarios, has those in charge of the department worried.

Weekly, emergency calls are getting stacked up.

Simply put, some times more people are calling 911 for emergency help then there are ambulance crews to respond. And when that happens, someone in need, simply has to wait.

“We are strapped with resources. Our call value continues to climb and our personnel are doing their absolute best to get to every call that we happen to have, but it’s getting to the point where we can’t,” Pocatello Fire Chief Mike Irwin said.

This problem should see some major relief in October, when a new ambulance crew can get hired due to a levy passed by Bannock County voters last year.

But Irwin said that won’t completely solve the problem. If emergency calls keep increasing at the same rate, he said Bannock County will be in the same trouble again soon.

“It appears that if we continue with the current trends that we’re seeing probably within a year or year and a half we’ll be somewhat back in the same situation again of not having enough resources out there to run the call volumes that we’re going to experience,” Irwin said.


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Cops: Man stole, crashed ambulance

Posted on 29 May 2012 by wyoskibum

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Lots of people, unfortunately, have ridden in an ambulance. Only some have driven one. Even fewer have been accused of stealing one. A Providence man now has done them all, according to police.

After Eyewitness News got a tip about it this week, North Smithfield Police did confirm that an ambulance was stolen on Saturday night, a little after 10 p.m., from the Med Tech ambulance service in Providence.

Up Rt. 146 northbound went the ambulance, speeding and weaving enough that it was a danger to other drivers on the road, police said in a news release. Somehow, the interloper had gotten the lights and sirens going.

Police caught up with the stolen ambulance in short order and tried to pull the vehicle over, but the driver refused to stop.

The ambulance tried to loop around at Rt. 104 onto Rt. 146 southbound, when police said the person behind the wheel lost control, and the rescue vehicle slammed right into the center median guardrail.

Behind the wheel, police say, officers found Troy Cable, 26, of Providence. He had a couple of minor injuries, and had to be transported to Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket.

Cable was treated and released back to North Smithfield Police, and is now charged for driving under the influence, eluding police, operating a motor vehicle with no license, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.



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Harvard student in police chase after taking an ambulance for a drunken joyride

Posted on 29 May 2012 by wyoskibum

BUFFALO, NY – A Harvard University graduate student was arrested Buffalo, New York, for taking an ambulance on an alcohol-fueled joyride and causing a high-speed police chase.

Heather Sullivan (37) is charged with allegedly causing $80,000 to $100,000 in damages to a Rural/Metro Medical Services ambulance and other property. She was a patient being treated at the Erie County Medical Center when she stole the ambulance and escaped down the emergency room ramp, according to Buffalo News.

Sullivan is accused of “heading east on Kensington Avenue and reaching speeds of nearly 100 mph as she was pursued by ECMC police officers.”The police report documents witness reports that the ambulance nearly hit pedestrians and other vehicles at several intersections.

She eventually lost control of the vehicle and it came to a stop on a grass verge.

The grad student has been charged with “reckless endangerment, grand larceny, criminal possession of a stolen vehicle,” among other charges.

According to the Daily Mail, Sullivan had been brought to the emergency room to be treated for intoxication.

At 6.30 she took off in the ambulance. The keys had been left in the emergency vehicle.

Her lawyer, Barry Covert spoke to the court on Monday. He asked that her bail be dropped to $10,000, from $25,000, explaining that she would not leave the city before her next court appearance due to her graduate studies.

Her lawyer said, “She’s not right for flight. She’s not going to leave her Harvard Graduate Program because of this for failure of not coming to court and jeopardizing her entire career.”



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Tough Questions Regarding Ambulance Response In Buffalo

Posted on 23 May 2012 by wyoskibum

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Rural/Metro is defending its ambulance service in Buffalo after complaints followed a delayed response earlier this year.

2 On Your Side filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for all the “Ambulance Unavailability” reports from dispatchers over an 8-month period from July 2011 to February 2012. The library incident was not isolated. In fact, there were 279 incidents in which dispatchers did not have access to an ambulance, leading to delays ranging from 1 minute up to nearly an hour.

  • January 29 – Difficulty Breathing – 33-minute wait
  • December 31 – Assault Victim – 35-minute wait
  • October 12 – Diabetic – 35-minute wait
  • October 8 – Cardiac Arrest – 36-minute wait
  • September 2 – Not Alert – 41-minute wait

Rural/Metro said those hand-written documents are unreliable and some of the response times are contradicted by the company’s record-keeping. However, Division General Manager Jay Smith acknowledged that some calls may experience delays if they are “cold”, which means the patients do not require immediate action.

Such was the case at the library. A source tells 2 On Your Side the patient wasn’t actually experiencing seizures, and because firefighters on scene didn’t elevate the call, the final paramedic-level ambulance was held in case a more serious call came in. Smith confirmed there were “hot” calls during the 45-minute wait.

“We do have to prioritize what the emergency (is) and the need of the call at the given time,” Smith said. “And we think the system that we have in place is handling that the best that we can possibly do.”

But Councilman David Franczyk questions why even a “cold” call should take nearly an hour. He proposed, and the Council adopted, a resolution calling Rural/Metro to appear in chambers to explain its response times.

“They have to show us that they have enough manpower, that there’s not people being burnt out on overtime, (and) that there are enough vehicles,” Franczyk said.

Smith said he welcomes the opportunity to address any concerns from members of the Common Council. Rural/Metro’s exclusive contract to provide ambulance service to the City expires July 1, and the Council will have to approve any new deal.

Both Smith and Franczyk agreed that there are unnecessary strains on the EMS system caused by people who misuse or abuse 911.

“Some people just abuse the system,” Councilman Franczyk said. “(They think) it’s a cab ride somewhere, you know, because it’s frivolous.”

There’s also the issue that when ambulances make it to hospitals, there can often be a backlog, requiring the EMTs and paramedics to stay there for an hour or longer waiting to transfer their patients to physicians.

“The more volume that people use – either use us to go to the ERs or just go into the ERs themselves, obviously that has … a trickle-down effect on the way we’re able to deploy resources as well,” Smith said.

Despite the challenges, and despite the lengthy wait times that we profiled, Smith said he is proud of Rural/Metro’s record in Buffalo.

In 2011, Rural/Metro records show that 94% of the time, an ambulance was on scene at cardiac calls in under 9 minutes, which is an industry standard.

The overall response time for all calls, according to Rural/Metro, was 7 minutes, 7 seconds.

Rural/Metro officials will likely go before the Council sometime in June. 2 On Your Side will continue to follow this story.



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Patient steals ambulance

Posted on 23 May 2012 by wyoskibum

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 37-year-old woman is facing some serious charges after taking off with a Rural Metro Ambulance and crashing it into a parking lot wall in Amherst early Sunday morning.

“It was quite exciting for 6:30 in the morning,” says Paul Vanderbush, a witness to the crash.

Rural Metro says the ambulance involved in the crash looks like it may be a total loss.

“I was on my way for coffee, I stopped at the intersection of Harlem and Wehrle and there were a bunch of police cars coming into the intersection and ambulances are all over the place,” says Vanderbush.

A bizarre morning when officials say a drunk 37-year-old woman waiting to be admitted at ECMC takes off with an ambulance on the hospital ramp, speeding through town, until crashing at the round-a-bout at Kensington and Harlem.

“The entire front of the ambulance was pretty well smashed in. She came through the landscaping and broke a big pot and from the damage going into the intersection it looked like she had jumped the beginning of it,” says Vanderbush.

The flower bed in the round-a-bout was freshly planted just the other day.

“The town did a lot of work on it and they have some volunteers that help out and they just put in top soil and the flowers and trimmed the plants and cleaned it up so nice,” says Vanderbush.

Vanderbush says it’s a good thing it was a Sunday Morning.

“If this had been a week day it would have been terrible someone would have got hit.”

By the afternoon the mess was mostly cleaned up, but for anyone who saw it, it won’t be easily forgotten.

“There was no other traffic on this street there was no one else around and all the sudden this parade of police cars and ambulances and all that and they tied up the intersection for quite some time until they cleaned the mess up. But I hope the lady is alright,” says Vanderbush.

The woman, whose name hasn’t been released, is being charged with reckless endangerment, grand larceny, criminal possession of a stolen vehicle and other charges.



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Parma ambulance is badly damaged in Sunday accident

Posted on 23 May 2012 by wyoskibum

PARMA, OH – A city ambulance on an emergency run was badly damaged Sunday afternoon after it was hit by a van or minivan.

Apparently, no one was hurt. Details were sketchy as of Tuesday. Police did not return calls about the accident.

However, Doug Turner, Fire Department spokesman, said the accident occurred at about 2 p.m. at Broadview and Snow roads.

The ambulance — with two paramedics on board but no patient — was passing through the intersection when it was hit, Turner said.

Turner said police, who were on the scene as the accident occurred, reported that the ambulance was not at fault.

According to police, the ambulance had stopped before it entered the intersection but was still hit by the van or minivan, Turner said.

Afterward, another ambulance arrived at the scene. Paramedics checked everyone involved in the accident.

“All passengers refused treatment or transportation (to a hospital),” Turner said.

Meanwhile, a third ambulance responded to the original emergency call, Turner said.

The ambulance involved in the accident was towed from the scene. Turner said a mechanic is now examining the vehicle at fire station two on Snow.

Turner said it had not been determined as of Tuesday whether the ambulance was a total loss.

Turner said the ambulance will be temporarily replaced by one of two spare ambulances until it is repaired or permanently replaced.

The ambulance is not the only fire department vehicle that might need replacing.

On Monday night, Safety Director Greg Baeppler told City Council’s Public Safety Committee that he would like to have the committee’s June 11 meeting at fire station two.

Baeppler said he wants the committee to see equipment at the station so that council understands “the position we’re in.” He did not elaborate.

On Tuesday, Jeannie Roberts, city spokesperson, said the city is hoping to replace two aging fire trucks. They are 22- and 24-years-old, she said.

The purpose of the committee meeting at the fire station is to make council aware of the age of the trucks and how they are maintained.

With that information, council can then make informed decisions about when and how to replace the fire trucks, Roberts said.

Baeppler said he hopes to replace the two fire trucks by early next year.



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Motorcycle crashes into ambulance

Posted on 23 May 2012 by wyoskibum

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says at least two wrecks happened around the same time this afternoon on the popular stretch of US-129 known as ‘The Dragon.’ photographer David Allison captured one motorcyclist crash into an ambulance en route to treating another motorcycle crash victim.

“I thought he was going to go up underneath the ambulance,” says Allison. “But the bike hit the ambulance, he missed the ambulance, and walked away.”

THP had no update on the condition of the first accident victim.

By the end of April 2011 THP says 20 people died in motorcycle accidents in Tennessee.

Numbers for the entire year declined 18% over 2010.

But so far this year they seem to be on the rise.

By the end April 2011, 20 motorcyclists died on the road. THP says at the end of April 2012 that number rose to 28.



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Ambulance involved in wreck; no serious injures reported

Posted on 15 May 2012 by wyoskibum

THOMASVILLE, NC – An ambulance transporting a patient to Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem received significant damage after it collided with an SUV at the intersection of N.C. Highway 109 North and West Lexington Avenue Extension.

First responders were dispatched to the wreck at 8:27 a.m. Monday, said Zach Jordan, deputy chief of the Hasty Volunteer Fire Department.

Trooper S.E. McHenry said Phillip Leonard, 41, of High Point, was traveling west on West Lexington Avenue Extension crossing N.C. 109 in a Land Rover when he did not see an ambulance with sirens and lights flashing heading north on N.C. 109. The ambulance, driven by Maxwell Messinger of Salisbury, had stopped at the intersection to make sure he was clear to continue onto N.C. 109 North. McHenry said Messinger proceeded northbound at a low rate of speed when he was struck by Leonard who was traveling about 40 miles per hour.

Leonard thought he was clear to proceed because he also had the green light, McHenry said.

“We should all look before we (get into an intersection),” McHenry said. “That’s what I told him (Leonard). I told him to always look before you cross regardless of the light (being green).”

Leonard, who was carrying his 3-year-old and 3-month-old children, was charged with failing to yield for emergency traffic. Jordan said Leonard and two passengers were uninjured.

Jeff Smith, director of Davidson County Emergency Services, said the ambulance was hit in the back quarter at the rear wheels. The ambulance spun around and struck the guardrail on N.C. 109.

“It was actually against the guardrail. They had to pull it up to get the patient out,” Smith said.

McHenry said Messinger was transporting Jeanne Almeida, 61, of Thomasville, to Forsyth Medical Center for breathing problems. She was accompanied by a friend, 62-year-old Marie Nurhan.

Erica Elkins, 24, of Thomasville, a paramedic with Davidson County Emergency Services, was tending to Almeida inside of the back of the ambulance, McHenry said. McHenry said Elkins was transported to Thomasville Medical Center, where she was being treated for minor injuries Monday afternoon.

Messinger did not have to be hospitalized.

“When the impact occurred, of course (Elkins) was not restrained,” McHenry said. “An ambulance is box-typed. She kind of went over to the other side where the cabinets are and got bumps and bruises on her head and body. She did not fall onto the patient or anything. She just went over the patient and hit the inside cabinet area of the ambulance.”

Maj. Larry James of Davidson County Emergency Services said Almeida was transported to Forsyth as originally planned. Smith said she suffered no additional injuries due to the wreck, and Nurhan did not receive any injuries.

“Anytime one of our ambulances is involved in a wreck first and foremost our citizens and crews, their safety and health is our foremost thought,” Smith said. “Vehicles can be replaced. We are most interested to make sure they are OK and not injured. Anytime an ambulance runs lights and sirens there’s an increased risk.”

Smith said the 2010 Chevrolet ambulance received significant damage, and the Land Rover may be totaled.

A portion of N.C. 109 North was blocked off while emergency crews were at the scene.

The Hasty Volunteer Fire Department, Davidson County EMS, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and the Highway Patrol responded.



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Jefferson County jury clears ambulance driver in fatal wreck

Posted on 12 May 2012 by wyoskibum

BESSEMER, Alabama — A Jefferson County jury in Bessemer today cleared an ambulance driver of manslaughter in a 2009 wreck on Interstate 20/59 in Bessemer which left a 72-year-old woman dead.

Family members of Sherrie Denise Varnon, 40, of Quinton squealed with excitement upon hearing the not guilty verdict returned to Circuit Judge David Hobdy Jr. by the jury of eight women and four men.

Varnon was on trial for the Nov. 5, 2009, wreck which killed Norma Alexander near the 18th Street exit in Bessemer.

Prosecutors argued Varnon took her eyes off the road for about 10 seconds and fiddled with a cellphone in her right hand just before the Rural Metro ambulance she was driving struck the back of the vehicle in which Alexander was a passenger.

Alexander was ejected from the vehicle and killed. Varnon was not responding to an emergency and was on her way to pick up another driver that day, prosecutor Lane Tolbert argued. The ambulance was traveling at 87 mph in the northbound lanes when it struck the vehicle driven by Alexander’s daughter, Lisa, from behind, causing it to flip several times.

Varnon’s eyes returned to the roadway just before the collision, Tolbert said.

Tommy Tucker, Varnon’s attorney, argued Alexander’s daughter was at fault. The vehicle carrying the two women had crossed the median from the southbound lanes into the northbound lane just before it was struck by the ambulance.

Jurors watched video of the wreck during the trial.

Tucker said he was grateful for the jury’s verdict and called the incident a tragedy for the families of both Alexander and Varnon.



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Ambulance, vehicle in crash on Route 422

Posted on 12 May 2012 by wyoskibum

READING, PA – Two people were injured in an accident Tuesday afternoon involving an ambulance and another vehicle on the West Shore Bypass in Exeter Township.

The accident occurred about 2:40 in the westbound lanes of the bypass, which is Route 422, between the Mount Penn and Interstate 176 exits.

A patient was in the ambulance at the time of the accident, emergency dispatchers said.


The victims were taken to Reading Hospital. Information on their conditions could not be obtained.

Fire police from Cumru and Exeter townships closed one of the westbound lanes for about an hour and directed traffic.

Further details were unavailable.

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Ambulance driver on trial for manslaughter

Posted on 12 May 2012 by wyoskibum


An ambulance driver is on trial in Bessemer, charged with manslaughter for killing a 72-year-old woman in a 2009 wreck.

Sherrie Stone Varnon is accused of causing the wreck that killed Norma Alexander. Today in opening statements, prosecutors said Varnon was reckless while driving an ambulance and scrolling on her phone at the same time.

The wreck happened on I-59 Northbound just before the 18th/19th Street exit in Bessemer.

Varnon’s attorneys said in court Tuesday it was Norma Alexander’s daughter Lisa who was reckless and that she is the one at fault in the wreck that caused her mother’s death.

Today on the stand, Lisa Alexander told jurors she was running late for a doctor’s appointment on the day of the accident, Nov. 5, 2009. She was headed onto I-59 south to her appointment near UAB West when she noticed traffic was stopped due to a wreck ahead.

Alexander says she decided to cross the median to take a different route, and as she looked up the road, she saw flashing lights far off in the distance.

A few seconds after turning onto the road, she was hit from behind by a rural metro ambulance driven by Sherri Varnon.

In a statement to police, Varnon said she was following behind an ambulance from the first accident, headed to UAB. She didn’t have a passenger but her lights and siren were on and she was going more than 87 miles per hour. She says dispatchers called and as she went to answer her phone, the wreck occurred.

But on Tuesday afternoon, jurors were shown video recorded inside the ambulance that told a different story. Varnon could be seen with a phone in her right hand looking down for almost 10 seconds. She looked up just seconds before slamming into the back of the Alexander’s SUV, causing it to flip four times and ejecting Normal Alexander, who died on impact.

The prosecution has one other witness to present tomorrow. It’s not yet known if Varnon will take the stand. If convicted, Varnon would face two to 20 years in prison.



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Pedestrian crash involving ambulance ruled suicide

Posted on 12 May 2012 by wyoskibum

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) — The pedestrian hit by an ambulance last month committed suicide, according to the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

46-year-old Carlos Hernandez was struck by an ambulance on East Lake Mead Boulevard near Pecos the night of April 22.

Police said at the time Hernandez was crossing the street outside of a marked crosswalk. He was rushed to University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The MedicWest ambulance driver, a 26-year-old man, was not hurt and consented to a blood draw. A second occupant of the ambulance was also uninjured. Police said drugs and alcohol were not a factor on the part of the driver.



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