Atlanta Fire chief says city may need to start its own ambulance service

Firefighters cradled an injured 85-year-old crash victim and set her on a spine board before putting her on the ground.

If things had worked the way they should, the elderly woman would have been put directly into an ambulance.

But there was no Grady ambulance. There was confusion and a lengthy delay of nearly one hour on the recent Saturday morning when an elderly couple from Ohio crashed into a curved wall on the interstate. 

Atlanta leaders, including Councilman Dustin Hillis, say while the delay was extreme it often takes Grady EMS too long to get on scene. 

On that morning last month, there were two crashes on the highway. The initial ambulance stopped at the wrong accident.

On Atlanta 911 communications, a frustrated police officer is heard imploring the dispatch officer to get an ambulance to the scene. He advised that firefighters had done all they could, but only Grady EMS could transport.

"It's becoming clear, Grady too often is not reliable," said Hillis, who discussed the emergency response problems with Chief Rod Smith of Atlanta Fire Rescue.

SEE ALSO: Atlanta looks to fill ambulance need in city

Smith told the councilman he is having "uncomfortable" conversations with Grady ambulance officials about arrival times.

Grady acknowledges heavy call volumes make them late more often than they would like. 

And with increasing traffic on roads, accidents likely will go up not down. 

The Atlanta fire chief told Councilman Hillis the city may need to start its own ambulance run.

The doctors at Grady Memorial Hospital were able to patch up the elderly woman. She is home.

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