Subscribe to the new podcast ‘Killing Lorenzen’ – Episode 2 just released

Non-Emergency 911 Cause Ambulance Shortages

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis) Memphis has 33 ambulances and Monday, for a period of about an hour, they were all tied up because of a surge in 911 calls.

But this isn't a problem isolated to Monday it can be a frequent problem.

Anthony Shaw lives just down the street from a man shot in the leg in what he says was a gang related home invasion Monday, “Nothing is being done man to save these kids. It's about the kids."

Shaw Is furious Memphis had no available ambulances to send to the victim, “It could have been critical. You've got to treat all of them the same because it could have been devastating because he was hit near one of his main arteries."

When there isn’t an ambulance available, fire dispatch scrambles to send a private ambulance contracted by the city.

This can cause a delay in the transport portion of emergency response.

Monday, Rural Metro Ambulance was called out, but Fire Director Alvin Benson said medical help was with the victim before the ambulance got there, “Every fire station almost every day has a periodic on that engine or truck that can actually respond within a short period of time. Like this morning within five minutes we were there."

Director Benson says Memphis has the same number of ambulances as cities of equal size and their response time is on par with the national average of 9:22.

He said the real problem is with the abuse of the 911 system, “People calling 911 when they shouldn't call, like this morning, we were on some non-life threatening calls that we shouldn’t have been on quite frankly. That happens every day in our system."

Shaw still believes the city could do more, “It's ridiculous man the way we're handling things. Tax payers aren't being taken care of at all. Everybody is just down there talking."

Director Benson says people call for a tooth ache or stubbed toe and that is not considered an emergency.

If you have a non-life threatening emergency your asked to call your doctor not 911.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.