D.C. paramedics are lacking in the city

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- D.C. ambulances have been in the news lately for a range of problems. Add to that today a report from the Associated Press and the International Association of Firefighters that says the number of paramedics in the area is far below the number in many comparable cities.

D.C. has 130,000 calls for ambulance services annually and has only 35 paramedics on duty at a given time – compared to Columbus, OH with 96 paramedics, Phoenix with 166, and San Antonio with 66.

The chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee says the department clearly needs to hire more paramedics. But according to Councilman Tommy Wells, “As long as we can transport quickly in fast manner, that's the most important measure."

Wells says he believes a hindrance has been D.C.’s policy requiring all paramedics to also be firefighters. He said that for now, the city has scrapped that policy – at least temporarily – because of the shortage.

But this is yet another question raised about the adequacy of ambulance service in the city. And residents don’t seem to be all too comfortable with it.

"We the people suffer," said D.C. resident Bernard Myers.