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Fire Department Cuts Continue to Delay Response Times to Emergencies

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More examples of delayed fire department responses linked to budget cuts are coming to light. One of the most recent incidents involved a 22-year-old South L.A. woman suffering from a cardiac arrest. "Normally, the closest paramedic-staffed engine would have been a half-mile away," explained the LA Times. "However, that engine had been shut down and a unit 1.7 miles away responded instead, arriving four minutes after the alarm was sounded, according to fire officials. An ambulance with two paramedics took eight minutes to get to the scene." She later died at the hospital.

Officials say there is no way to tell how things would have turned out if units arrived earlier, but do emphasize crucial nature of every second in emergencies.

In an August 14th e-mail to the community, Councilman Greig Smith wanted "to take the opportunity to present you with the facts" about rotating cuts to the fire department non-emergency overtime. "Response times will remain under 7 minutes citywide," he assured.

Smith, an LAPD reserve officer with enough experience to know better, shouldn't present facts that cannot be held true. Just a couple weeks after his statement, it took more than 10 minutes for firefighters to respond to a drowning child call. The child died.

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On Sunday, an engine--it should be noted every LAFD member is at minimum EMT trained--arrived in the knick of time, seven minutes after a call for an apparent cardiac arrest, outside one of Smith's field offices at the Chatsworth Train Station. Paramedics arrived 11 minutes after the call. Fortunately, the victim survived.