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 lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.