Ill. Ambulance Hit by Stray Bullet as Medics Treat Combative Patient
May 27—Charges are pending against a woman who is said to have attacked Chicago Fire Department paramedics in the back of an ambulance that was shot during the episode in Englewood early Sunday, police said.
A bullet lodged in the passenger side door of the ambulance as medics were treating a patient whose family became irate when they weren't allowed in the ambulance. The woman herself later was arrested on suspicion of attacking the paramedics inside, according to police.
Ambulance 75 initially was sent to 68th Street and Damen Avenue about 3:45 a.m. to treat a woman who was having a medical issue, police said.
Paramedics found an unresponsive woman around the age of 19 on the ground with her mother there, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.
As medics got the woman into the ambulance and started treating her, the mother and several other family members started banging on the windows and doors, trying to get inside, Langford said.
Once the woman regained consciousness, she became "unruly and then combative, fighting the paramedics," police said.
Paramedics heard a loud fireworks-like burst, with one especially loud "firework" that turned out to be shooting, Langford said. As responding officers went to investigate where the shooting came from, Langford said the medics drove away and made it to 69th Street and Bell Avenue—where there's a fire station—to keep treating the patient.
The shooting appeared to be coming from a house about eight lots down 68th Street from the ambulance, Langford said. Fire and police officials said they did not have information about the caliber of the bullet or gun used.
The coppery slug remained lodged in the ambulance door, slightly below and center of the handle. While the ambulance is not an armored vehicle, Langford said the bullet hit an area in front of a compartment with an extra wall, which meant it would have had extra layers to go through before making it into the ambulance.
"My gut tells me, after talking to everybody... the ambulance probably was not shot at," Langford said. "It might have been from the altercation down the street."
As medics struggled with the combative patient, her mother followed the ambulance to 69th and Bell, where she kept trying to get to her daughter inside, Langford said.
The patient repeatedly kicked one of the paramedics in the head, and a police officer got in the ambulance and handcuffed her to subdue her, Langford said. She has since been treated at Holy Cross Hospital and released to Chicago police, he said. Police said she was in custody for aggravated battery to a paramedic, and charges were pending Sunday morning.
The paramedic she kicked also was taken to Holy Cross and was expected to be treated and released, Langford said.
About the same time as the shooting, ShotSpotter—police technology used to detect shootings in the city—picked up the sound of gunfire nearby and police found a car with shell casings inside.
Allowing a loved one in the back of an ambulance with a patient would be problematic for several reasons, including that there's already limited space with two medics and the patient and it's more difficult to treat someone with an emotional parent there, Langford said.
The ambulance returned to the firehouse, where it was taken out of service. It had been "trashed," with items off shelves and in disarray, Langford said. Meanwhile, he said the department was not allowing it to be photographed in the firehouse.
"Firefighting is a dangerous job," Langford said. "When you're on the street, you never know what's going to happen."