Wife Passes Out In Cleveland; 911 Tells Husband ‘We Don’t Have an Ambulance to Send to You’

A Cleveland Emergency Medical Service ambulance. (Photo: WKYC)
A Cleveland Emergency Medical Service ambulance.
(Photo: WKYC)

It could happen to you or to a loved one. You fear you’re suffering from a heart attack. You call 911. You would think help is just minutes away. But in this case, you’d be wrong. The city of Cleveland’s emergency response system failed an elderly Cleveland couple.

Sandy Pierre, 68, thought she was suffering a heart attack.

“I was clammy, nauseous and dizzy,” she said. “By the time I got up and walked to the bedroom, I passed out,” she said.

Her husband, Fred, called 911 immediately.

“I need an ambulance,” he told a dispatcher.

The dispatcher said, “We are unable to dispatch an ambulance at this time.”

Fred said he was told it might take 20 minutes or longer when one might become available. Fred, 71, didn’t know what to do. He thought he might be taking a chance if he drove his wife to the hospital himself.

“I was upset about it and concerned that this could have been something fatal for me. I was also worried about this happening to someone else,” Sandy said.

Fred decided to take matters in his own hands and drove Sandy to the hospital. “I was ticked off,” Fred said. “What the hell was going on?”

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Tom Meyer

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