The following is republished from The Youngstown Vindicator as a part of The Center for Community Solutions’ Health and Human Services Journalism grant.
YOUNGSTOWN – Leslie Murphy recalls feeling helpless as she sat in the living room of a woman who thought she was having a heart attack.
Experiencing shortness of breath and already on oxygen, the woman had called 911 looking for assistance.
Captain Leslie Murphy and Lieutenant Michael Mahon talk about responding to emergency calls at Youngstown Fire Station 15 on Wednesday. Murphy had been dispatched, because the Youngstown Fire Department was warned an ambulance would not arrive promptly.
They passed time as “Law & Order SVU” played in the background.
After an hour, Murphy was prompted by her supervisor to ask the woman if she had a car.
“Never in my 21-year career have I been so ashamed to be a Youngstown firefighter,” Murphy said, her words dripping with bitterness and frustration.
So she sat in the back seat of the woman’s 2000 Chevrolet Impala keeping watch over the woman’s oxygen tank. A firefighter – who was an emergency medical technician, not a paramedic, like Murphy – drove.