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May 17, 2017 06:03 PM

Help On Hold: More Patients Come Forward With Claims Ambulance Took Too Long

Sioux Falls, SD

The video attached to this story has been edited to remove an incorrect graphic.  

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

We need to let you know about an incorrect graphic we aired last week as part of our coverage on ambulance response times.

We reported on two recent calls when it took a Paramedics Plus ambulance 22-minutes to arrive at the scene of an ATV accident in central Sioux Falls and 23-minutes to arrive at a call to help a woman who was reported unconscious and not breathing on the east side of town. In each case, the person needing care died. But as we reported in the story, we don’t know whether faster ambulance response times could have prevented those deaths.

So the graphic which read “Two Deaths Due to Late Ambulances” was incorrect.

More people are coming forward, questioning the time they had to wait for an ambulance during a medical emergency. 

Our KELOLAND Investigation into Help on Hold uncovered two deadly cases where the ambulance was late. 

We also heard from the City Health Department that many of those late calls don't count against Paramedics Plus' response times because they happened during so-called system overloads. 

Paramedics Plus staffs ambulances based on historical data for emergency calls, so when they're higher than what's expected that's known as a system overload, or a 980, when no truck is available to go on a call. 

Sally McNamara was driving by the east side Walmart last November.

"I was speeding up to get through the intersection and I t-boned the Jeep. I had nowhere to go," Sally McNamara said.

Her husband was home in Brandon.

"She calls me in a panic and says, 'I have just been in an accident; somebody just t-boned me. The airbag is deployed. The ambulances are coming. I don't know what to do,'" Charles "Mac" McNamara said.

So Mac headed for the scene. He says it took him 15 to 20 minutes to get there. 

"The only ones on scene--the fire department was just showing up, the police department was already there," Mac said.

Records show that the Paramedics Plus ambulance arrived 19 minutes after the 911 call first came in. But Mac claims it was well after that.

"The first thing they told police when they showed up was, 'We are sorry; we got stuck in traffic.'  As a paramedic unit that's why you have lights and sirens, to get through traffic," Mac said.

The couple declined to have Paramedics Plus take Sally to the hospital.

"I basically said, 'If you guys couldn't get here in enough time, I'll beat you to the hospital myself,'" Mac said.

Sally had a concussion and is grateful it wasn’t worse. 

Jeremy Bullock collapsed in April of 2016 at the Garfield Apartments.

"I got kind of light-headed, tight in my chest. I fell down," Jeremy Bullock said. 

"A crash in the bathroom and I got up and ran to the bathroom," Pamela Miller said.

"I just tell her, 'Call 911,' and she calls 911. I just remember lying there waiting," Bullock said.  "It was just taking forever for somebody to get there to help me."

According to 911 records, Paramedics Plus arrived six minutes after Miller called 911and seconds before the fire department.  Only the couple disputes that, saying fire rescue arrived well before Paramedics Plus.

"The ambulance got there about 35, 40 minutes later," Miller said.

"They ask me if I can get up and I got up by myself. I don't know how," Bullock said.

Bullock says he managed to walk to the ambulance where paramedics confirmed the 37-year-old was having a heart attack and rushed him to the ER at Sanford Hospital. 

"Within those 15, 20, 30 minutes or so, he could have been gone already," Miller said.

"Because of the grace of God and Pam and Trin being there, I'm still alive, but I guess my expectation is for them to be more prompt," Bullock said.

Bullock says his hospital records show that he was brought in 32 minutes after the 911 call was placed. 

KELOLAND News checked with Metro Communications and they say they double-checked the times with the GPS software on the ambulances and the times they have for both of these calls are correct.  Paramedics Plus will not comment on specific cases citing HIPAA laws.

Update:  KELOLAND News has received Jeremy Bullock’s medical records which show he was admitted to Sanford Hospital 33 minutes after Pamela Miller called 911.   Bullock was transported .07 miles from his home to the hospital.

From Metro Communications Records:Bullock Heart response times


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