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Reinforcements for D.C. EMS after heavy early week call volume

D.C. police found a man with a gunshot wound in the arm inside a residence in the 4300 block of 3rd Street SE onTuesday afternoon, officials said.

Unfortunately, such an attack is not all that uncommon in that stretch of the city -- which sits blocks from the South Capitol Street corner where nine people were shot last week.

What was unusual, however, was that no D.C. ambulance was available to transport the man to a hospital. He was treated by medics from a city fire engine, D.C. Fire and Emergency Services officials acknowledged.

The reason? D.C. medic units have been extremely busy so far this week, according to Pete Piringer, a D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman.

"It is not unheard of, but it is somewhat extraordinary," said Piringer during a telephone interview Tuesday night.

In response, officials are deploying an additional six ambulance crews during peak times on Wednesday, Piringer said.

During the first two days of this week, city EMS units were inundated with about 300 calls for service between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Piringer said. Typically, medic units handle 425 to 450 in 24-hour period on those days, he said.

Officials expected heavy work on Monday, Piringer said, with the city flooded by tourists, families attending the White House Easter Egg Roll, Washington Capitals fans heading to the Verizon Center and Washington Nationals patrons at opening day of the baseball season.

However, Tuesday's problems were as unexpected as the hot weather that hit the region.

Early analysis doesn't point to one specific issue that spiked calls for service, Piringer said, though "we seemed to have a bit of increase in heat exhaustion, dehydration, asthma and fainting spells."

As for the Southeast shooting victim, the fire engine medic -- about 20 fire engines have medics assigned to them -- treated the man at the scene and loaded him on the fire engine for transport to a hospital. A few blocks into the trip an ambulance met the fire engine and took the man for treatment, Piringer said.

-- Clarence Williams

By Clarence Williams  |  April 7, 2010; 8:32 AM ET
Categories:  Clarence Williams , Emergencies & Rescues , The District  
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Wow! Did he get to ride on the hose bed?

Posted by: ksu499 | April 7, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The idea of placing the majority of your paramedic resources on non-transport vehicles to achieve questionable responds times, as you can imagine, can directly impact patient outcome. ALS and BLS transport ambulances should be staffed by medical personnel assigned, not for 3-4 month tours, but FULL TIME and the experiment known as Dual Role Cross training should be put to rest as many urban high run volume jurisdictions are deciding to do. This type of system has become expensive and unsustainable.

Posted by: kendu256 | April 7, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps they use this time-honored EMS tradition -- "Gunshot wound is in your arm, right? Good. How about your legs? Anything wrong with them? No? Good. Walk over to that police car and they'll drive you to the hospital."

Posted by: sheehanjc | April 7, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

It is unbeliavable that this could happen. Although this is a busy time of year, it is not unheard of, and I don't recall there being a problem with Cherry Blossome festival, baseball games, etc. last year. Instead of taking everything at face value, check and see if all the ambulances and medic transport units were in service that day. I'll bet you'll see that there was some sort of logistical problem that the administration is hiding.

Posted by: tacard1 | April 8, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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