YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – If we get into a life-threatening situation, we believe an ambulance will be there to make sure we get the emergency care we need. But Monday morning, an ambulance didn’t come when a teen in Youngstown needed one the most. First responders had to think outside the box to save her life.
Just before 10 a.m., firefighters responded to a call for help at a body of water near McKelvey Lake on the city’s east side. When they got there, rescue crews found a teen girl up to her waist in freezing cold water.
They wasted no time jumping into action.
“Roped off and the crew took my safety line, and I went out and pulled her back in and we assisted her back to the shore,” Lt. Tommy Gibbs said.
Thanks to the quick action of firefighters from Station 12, the girl was pulled from the lake in just minutes.
However, her rescue was interrupted because no ambulances were available to take her to the hospital.
When Gibbs and the crew got the girl up to street level, they knew she was in bad shape.
“She was already beyond the point of shivering, so hypothermia was setting in,” Gibbs said. “Frostbite — she already had, so she needed to get treatment and there was no time to wait.”
So Gibbs got into a private vehicle and performed first aid on the way to the hospital. It’s something that he’s done before but admits he shouldn’t have to.
“That is probably the last thing we want to do. It’s not really safe for us or anybody else,” Gibbs said.
He has a suggestion that he thinks could help avoid a tragedy in the future.
“It would be much better if we had a city service run by us — the fire department. That would really benefit and control how we respond and how we get there.”
The girl was living in a group home on the east side. Officials have not released her name.
We reached out to AMR about the ambulance call but they would not comment.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to clarify that the teen fell into a body of water near McKelvey Lake, not the lake itself.