Detroit violates law by failing to turn over records on ambulance runs

Steve Neavling/MCM
Steve Neavling/MCM 

Detroit medics are taking too long to respond to emergencies, and people are dying.

Despite the urgency, the city of Detroit has failed to respond to our request for public records detailing ambulance runs under the Freedom of Information Act.

Under the state’s public records laws, city officials have one week to produce information unless they notify the requester of a 10-day extension.

In this case, the city did neither, even though the records are readily available.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office required us to file the request after we sought records in the wake of Detroit medics taking too long to respond to a car crash in which two children later died in mid-July. Ambulances also have been unavailable to respond to other emergencies.

Slow EMS times have long nagged the city, but the introduction of new ambulances was expected to solve the problem. Far from it.

The ambulances are breaking down at alarming rates, and repairs are slow.

Duggan’s office said two weeks ago that 18 new ambulances have been ordered, and 22 new paramedics were expected to be on the streets by the end of July, but it’s unclear whether that ever happened.

The city’s refusal to turn over records has been costly to taxpayers in the past. The Free Press successfully sued for access to public records connected to the Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick text-messaging scandal and was reimbursed for extensive legal fees.

Steve Neavling

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.

  • EDG

    Aren’t some ambulances private companies, they are at least in the burbs.

  • Gary

    The city barely functions in a rational manor, how do you expect something like this to be any different?

  • Guest

    The chief of police went to Cass Tech, took seven years to get a BA from a unaccredited college, and a masters and doctorate (?) from an online college. Is it any wonder why he couldn’t pass the police test? The guy is a bozo.

    The only thing the clown is good at is underreporting crime and getting his mug on TV. Steve, I’d really like you to look into the new numbers he’s pumping out, claiming the city is safer.

  • Jim McNichols

    Sad situation for sure. However, once Detroit gets their lights turned on, I’m sure they’ll be able to find whatever you’re looking for!

  • Georgia Johnson

    Let me start out by saying I Love Motor City Muckraker. Within the last year i have had to call E M S quit a lots never had to wait longer then 10 mins i guess you can say we Bless, Not saying you are not telling the truth about what going on But want to give credit where credit is due.Most of the E M S that come to my home are very KIND and RESPECTFULLY trucks could be in better shape.

  • sherry kurek

    You can’t fix the problem by new rigs or hiring new people. The problem starts with the 911 call. 85% of all calls are non emergent calls. All calls get an ambulance. When the other 15% of the real calls come in, guess where the ambulances are. The Mayor is trying to put a band aid on the problem because he as the Mayor has no power over the 911 call center, that is under the police dept which is under the EM. The calls need to be properly screened and alternate transportation given for the non emergency calls.

  • Chris Michalakis

    Wait a minute…you mean the ambulances that Penske got a no bid contract to maintain aren’t being maintained well? Shocker! Hey, at least Roger is getting his at the expense of others.

    Also, I would LOVE to see what the response rate is in Gilbert’s properties.

  • Ian Demsky

    Might be worth requesting internal correspondence related to the decision about releasing them, too.

    • muckraker_steve

      Ian, great idea. Thank you.