Concerns over medical response at Atlanta's airport

The new chief of the Atlanta Fire Department has a goal to put 15 paramedics on bikes to answer medical calls at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He is short of that goal but the current numbers are unclear.

FOX 5 exposed holes in the airport medical coverage after a July 2019 incident.

An airline passenger collapsed on the curb of the domestic terminal building. Calls came into airport dispatch from police for fire paramedics. It was shortly after 6 p.m., and the EMT bike teams had already gone home because they work only one shift.

In the video, a bystander could be seen trying to do chest compressions to save the man.

Firefighters on an engine had to respond coming through rush hour traffic. That passenger died from a heart attack.

Ever since that 2019 incident, Fire management pledged to increase the number of paramedics to cover both a day and evening shift – a total of 16 hours.

Chief Rod Smith says the coverage plan is still in the works. However, he is hampered by a slow recruiting process to put through new hires. Atlanta is more than 100 firefighters short throughout the city.

Airport sources tell FOX 5 it is critical to fill the bike teams because they can more quickly get to anywhere inside the sprawling airport buildings. They also say the busiest days are ahead for the airport as pre-pandemic traffic has returned.

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