Man Having Stroke Waits Nearly an Hour for Ambulance

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - When you call 911 you expect an ambulance to arrive at your home within minutes, but Wednesday, dispatch records show it took one Rural Metro ambulance over 45 minutes to arrive at the home of a stroke victim.

This comes, just over two weeks after Rural Metro paid a $96,000 penalty for slow response times.

Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman has new details on this latest problem and reaction from the victim's family.

Kelly Webster noticed her husband experiencing signs of a stroke Wednesday at their home on Watauga Drive.

She called 911 at 4:11 p.m., the fire department showed up minutes later.

And she says she's so happy they did, because the Rural Metro ambulance didn't arrive for 46 minutes.

"His headaches are getting really, really bad to where he can't handle the light and his right arm's drawing up,” Kelly Webster tells 911 dispatcher on a tape released Thursday.

Last week, a Rural Metro ambulance arrived at this home in a handful of minutes. That wasn't the case Wednesday.

"The ambulance was called at the same time that the fire truck was called, but it didn't get here for almost another hour," Kelly says.

According to 911 records, it took about three-minutes for Fire Engine 15 to arrive, but half an hour later, those same record show firefighters were still waiting.

Engine 15: "Could you check on the status of my ambulance please.”

Dispatch: "Engine 15."

Engine 15: "Go ahead."

Dispatch: "They've got another ambulance coming now because that one can't find it."

"One firefighter was pretty upset. He came out here and I heard him. He was really upset. ‘Cause he knew my husband was in danger,” Kelly says.

Thirty-eight minutes later, still no ambulance.

Engine 15: "Dispatch you need to hurry that ambulance up, we need it now."

Two minutes later, still no ambulance.

Engine 15: "Can you call another ambulance company? Pro-Need or something? We have no response yet."

Six minutes after that call and more than 45-minutes after the first call, "Medic unit is now on the scene,” a firefighter reports to the dispatcher.

What does Rural Metro say?

"I'm not gonna make an excuse. Obviously, a 47-minute response time is unacceptable regardless of what happens,” says Tre Hargett, Vice President for Rural Metro South Group. "We had 19 units in service at that time and 17 of those were on emergency calls at that very time."

Kelly Webster was worried about only one call.

"They called 'em like four or five times,” Kelly says.

Kelly says she's thankful those calls were made. "If it wasn't for Jacksboro Pike Fire Department, I don't know what I would've done yesterday."

Kelly tells WVLT that her husband Ronnie is going to be ok.

Tre Hargett adds that lately Rural Metro has been running above its 90% response threshold. He also says that Rural Metro wants to do its very best for this community.


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