As two children lay unconscious from breathing heavy smoke when their west-side house caught fire this morninbg, paramedics never arrived.
So firefighters tried to resuscitate the children, ages 4 and 6, and were forced to race the children to the hospital in a fire truck, the Motor City Muckraker has learned.
The 6-year-old was dead upon arrival, and the 4-year-old is clinging to life in critical condition, fire officials said.
The fatal fire is the third in four days in Detroit. Two others died over the weekend after fire hydrants malfunctioned; an elderly man was killed in a house blaze two weeks ago after firefighters took too long to respond because their closest stations were shuttered because of budget cuts.
Firefighters on the scene told Motor City Muckraker this morning that the children likely would have survived if EMS arrived on time because paramedics are better equipped to handle medical emergencies.
Turns out, the city has been down to 10 or 11 ambulances, short of the 19 required to keep pace with emergencies. The ambulances, with as many as 200,000 miles on them, are breaking down and not being replaced soon enough.
In the meantime, accident victims and people with medical emergencies often are forced to wait an hour or longer for help.
“Ten years ago we had 29 rigs,” one paramedic said. “We have over 100 vacant positions and no new trucks since 2008. No promotions to medic in over 5 years. The city does not care.”
Motor City Muckraker is awaiting comment from the mayor’s office and fire department, which operates EMS.
Hoping to ward off bankruptcy, Mayor Dave Bing has cut the fire department budget from $184 million to $160 million. Fire stations have been closed, and emergency equipment is becoming antiquated and insufficient.
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Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Living on the city’s east side, Neavling explores corruption, civil liberties and the underbelly of an oft-misunderstood city.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.