Don't have a heart attack during "Level Zero"

A reader sends along this story from KGW about a disturbing phenomenon in Portland and surrounding areas: You can't get an ambulance when you need one.

The ambulances are run by private companies, "supervised" by the counties. Oh, I get it: capitalist health care and local bureaucracy combined. What a recipe for disaster.

It took 32 minutes for an ambulance to get to a man in a wheelchair who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Northeast Portland on April 28.

The man died at the scene of the crash, although he was still alive when firefighters first arrived on the scene. Those firefighters worked to stabilize him in the road, waiting an agonizingly long time for an ambulance to transport him to the hospital....

The dispatch log shows ambulance provider American Medical Response (AMR) was operating at "level zero" — a code that signifies there are no ambulances available to respond to an emergency 911 call.

KGW has produced a series of reports in recent months on delayed ambulance response times and missed standards, including paramedic staffing challenges and the debate over Multnomah County's two-paramedic requirement.

Long story short: It's more b.s. from county government. We'd do better if the city and county were merged. At least, it couldn't get worse.

As for the ambulance companies, "Level Zero" should never happen. If they can't get their act together, maybe the local fire departments ought to take over the ambulance duties. Start now, have the problem fixed in five to 10 years.

Meanwhile, when the bike children at City Hall try to guilt you out of owning a car, keep this grim story in mind.


  1. “I’m from the government. I’m here to help.”

    It’s not funny anymore.


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