A shortage of new ambulances is preventing fire departments in Dallas and other north Texas cities from updating their fleets, resulting in slower emergency response times and increased fleet maintenance costs, says Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.
The delays jeopardize public safety in Texas and other states across the nation, said Johnson in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in October.
“From order to delivery, obtaining a new ambulance now takes at least 24 months, compared to a 90-120 day wait time pre-pandemic,” Johnson wrote.
Slowdown in Manufacturing
The shortage of emergency vehicles is happening because everything that is manufactured has been delayed significantly during the last two years, says John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D., an emergency physician in Brownwood, Texas.
“Delays in the supply chain are so common now you could write a book on this subject,” said Dunn.
Anything requiring a significant manufacturing effort takes longer, sometimes months longer, than it used to, says Dunn.
“Let’s say you decided to go out tomorrow and buy a generator for your house: you would wait months,” said Dunn. “Five years ago you could have had it the next day; you could have even had it overnighted. Now there’s just no supply, no manufacturing going on.”
Parts supplies are a big problem for vehicles made in the United States, says Dunn.
“The economy is in the tank, and they can’t make ambulances because they can’t make cars, trucks, generators, and so forth,” said Dunn. “These are not things built in Asia, then shipped overseas. These are things that have a lot of parts going into them, so you end up with local assembly being delayed by parts supply.”
Increased Response Times
Problems with manufacturing and the shortage of parts for repair and maintenance are reducing the numbers of ambulances on the street, and that slows response times, says Dunn.
“When the ambulances aren’t functioning, then it obviously reduces the number of response units that are available, which guarantees longer response times and [reduces the] adequacy of the emergency network,” said Dunn. “A reduction in the number of ambulances is definitely going to impact the ability of ambulance services to provide good response times.”
The shortage of emergency vehicles causes critical delays in treatment, says Dunn.
“If you don’t care, then it’s no big deal,” Dunn said. “But if you do care, then you have to say ambulance response times in big cities are important.”
Kenneth Artz (KApublishing@gmx.com) writes from Dallas, Texas.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s Letter to U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg:
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