SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates uncovered an aging vehicle fleet within Seminole County Fire Rescue that could be putting patients at risk.
Channel 9 has learned a patient was delayed getting to the nearest hospital by 10 minutes after an ambulance broke down while en route.
According to officials, the ambulance broke down near the corner of Mitchell Hammock Road and S.R. 426 around 7:45 Monday night, which is directly in front of the Oviedo ER, owned by Central Florida Regional Hospital.
Firefighters told Eyewitness News the patient was picked up for breathing problems and was headed for South Seminole Hospital.
The Oviedo Fire Department was called in for backup. Firefighters said crews had to transfer the patient into the Oviedo ambulance, which carried the patient to the Oviedo ER 11 minutes after the original ambulance broke down.
Seminole County Fire Union Secretary Mike Edmiston said it's the latest in a string of near-life-threatening delays due to an aging fleet.
“The person could have easily died,” Edmiston said.
County officials told WFTV the ambulance stopped accelerating, which is not a recurring maintenance problem on that particular vehicle.
Eyewitness News found out through a records request that the ambulance was purchased in 2008 and is one of the newer trucks in the fleet. But it has been out of service about 18 percent of its scheduled hours so far in 2014.
Earlier this month, Channel 9 uncovered more than a dozen firetrucks and ambulances were out of service more than 20 percent of the time since January.
“The citizens of this county are put at risk day after day after day with the trucks we put on the road,” Edmiston said.
County leaders said $4.8 million is in the planned 2015 budget to help replace some of the aging fire fleet, but that budget has not been approved yet.