DFD explains ambulance response time in deadly shooting

Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 18:46:02-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The family of Ciera Wells, 20, is planning her funeral while wondering if she’d still be here if she'd gotten to the hospital sooner.

Tuesday morning, Yquitta Wells watched helplessly as her daughter suffered from a gunshot wound. Investigators say the drive-by on Detroit's east side was a case of mistaken identity because of the make and model of her car.

“The ambulance never showed. They never showed. My baby was sitting there in the car, and we were yelling, ‘Where is the ambulance?’” Wells told 7 Action News Tuesday evening.

After waiting for an ambulance, an officer decided to rush Ciera to the hospital where she died.

7 Action News questioned Interim Detroit Fire Commissioner Chuck Simms about the ambulance response time.

“First of all, I want to give condolences to the family. We’re heartbroken over their tragic loss, and it’s good to know the Detroit Police Department made some arrests," Simms said.

The commissioner said between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. is the busiest time for the fire department’s emergency medical services division.

The city offered the following timeline of events:

  • 11:30 a.m.: 911 call of "shots fired" came in to dispatch
  • 11:33 a.m.: It became clear there was a gunshot victim, which warrants an ambulance to be dispatched
  • 11:34 a.m.: Police arrived on scene

Simms said an ambulance usually takes eight minutes to arrive to a priority call of this nature.

"All our EMS ambulances were out servicing other citizens. At the same time, we had a fire in the 14-story occupied building on Jefferson, which depleted most of our east side companies," Simms explained.

The timeline continues as followed:

  • 11:37 a.m.: The commissioner said an ambulance became available and was dispatched at that time
  • 11:44 a.m.: Police had already taken Wells to the hospital
  • 11:50 a.m.: The ambulance arrived.

Simms said what's happened in this tragedy didn't stem from a budget issue but a resource issue. He said the department is hiring more people.

He said the backup plan in these situations is to reach out to other ambulance companies, which he said were all busy at the time.

"It was just one of those things where everything just lined up for the wrong reasons," Simms said.