HFD emergency service cuts starting to hit Houstonians

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter

HOUSTON - After a move to save money in the Houston Fire Department, there are now accusations from the firefighters' union that the changes are disrupting emergency service and putting lives in danger.

When 14-month-old Miranda was choking and turning blue Sunday night, her grandma said she ran across the street to Houston Fire Station Number 12 on Alber in north Houston.

"They were awesome. They took good care of my granddaughter," said Valerie Davila, Miranda's grandmother.

She said she found helpful firefighters, but an ambulance that could not be driven. It was parked to save money.

Davila told Local 2, "They were like, we can't take her because we are no longer able to take the ambulance out because of cutbacks. So we had to wait for another ambulance to come to get my granddaughter."

Davila said an ambulance that was farther away rushed Miranda to LBJ Hospital. She was released early Monday morning and was expected to be OK.

On Saturday, Houston's fire chief ordered six ambulances and one medic unit shut down -- until further notice -- in order to save about $1.5 million in overtime overruns. The crews from those ambulances will be split up to work at other stations.

"Citizens will suffer by reduced or delayed response times," said Bryan Sky-Eagle, the president of Local 341, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. "In these reduced response times, you may have someone there tending to you but it's not the definitive care or the level of care you may need because that comes in the form of a hospital, and our transportation units will not be there for you."

The Houston Fire Department has not publicly released the next planned cuts. The department needs to save more than $8 million.

Below is a map of the HFD out-of-service ambulances:

MAP: HFD Out of Service Ambulances

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