‘We’re not going to wait any longer:’ Residents concerned about ambulance response times in Chatham Co.

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:53 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Renewed concerns surrounding ambulance response times in Chatham County.

Two shooting victims a man and a woman drove themselves to the hospital.

One of the victims say they waited way too long for help to arrive.

Can you imagine enjoying a family reunion at one moment and then being knocked down with a bullet in your arm the next?

That was the reality for one woman who was actually three blocks away, where the shooting actually took place.

WTOC spoke to her brother about their safety concerns and what he feels was a lack of emergency response. He asked to remain anonymous because the shooter still hasn’t been arrested.

“We was down there celebrating.”

A Garden City Police report says a woman, who asked not to be named, was standing outside her cousins house for a reunion on 8th Street, talking about attending church.

“After a while we just started hearing, it almost sounded like firecrackers.”

That’s when her brother, speaking to me anonymously, says he saw her on the ground.

“I kept hearing her say I was hit, I was hit.”

But before all of this, police got a gun shot alert three blocks away on 5th street and Davis Ave. It confirms a bullet from a shooting at that location traveled three blocks and hit her in the arm.

“I took the shirt off that I had on at the time and tied a turnakit on it.”

He says they waited what felt like ten minutes for an ambulance to come.

“She was flushed and was sweating real hard and I told her, ‘We’re not going to wait any longer. I put her in a car and I took her to Memorial Hospital.”

Chatham Emergency Services CEO Chuck Kearns tells WTOC an ambulance was en route immediately and that the patients bleeding was controlled.

Kearns says the ambulance was told by police to stage, meaning standby out of sight until police deem the area safe. While they were staging, he says the ambulance was diverted to a separate life threatening emergency.

WTOC asked how long the ambulance was staging before being sent to another emergency. Kearns said he couldn’t find that information.

Kearns says the police told EMS the scene was safe and then the first of two EMS units arrived, but the patient had already left.

WTOC asked how long it took for that EMS unit to get to the scene after it was considered safe and he said he didn’t have that information.

Garden City police supervision says officers were adamantly requesting an ambulance before the female victims brother decided to take her. He tells me he also heard police asking for the ambulance before he left.

“I heard the police officer saying I’ve called for the ambulance twice, where are you.”

He says he understands things happen but in the future.

“They could have been more effective because Garden City Police was there in an instant.”

WTOC also spoke to the uncle of the male victim who was shot on 5th Street, who happens to be Garden City district four councilman Richard Lassiter.

“It was definitely a shock at first but I had to put on my professional hat.”

He says he’s heard about safety concerns in that area. And this shooting hitting home has him pushing for change. He’s hoping more patrols and cameras are coming to the area.

“I met with my city manager the day after which was Sunday and we walked the community and we’re coming up with a plan of action to be proactive, instead of reactive going forward. Also, I just want to let the community know that we’re not going to let this one hiccup make us feel unsafe. We’re going to continue to build our community,” Garden City Councilman Richard Lassiter said.

Garden City Police are implementing a cops at bus stops campaign in the area to better reach children and their parents.

“We are here first and foremost to help and make sure that the citizens of Garden City are safe. If anybody has any information about that incident or any other incident, feel free to come to us,” Garden City Police LT. Shane Glasco said.

Again no arrest have been made in this shooting and it is an open investigation.