A shortage of emergency vehicles in Dallas prompted Mayor Eric Johnson to seek federal assistance. The letter stated that an order for 27 ambulance chassis, as well as 401 heavy equipment vehicles, went unfilled by the manufacturer due to issues with the supply chain.
The letter was addressed to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on behalf of the city of Dallas.
In the letter, Johnson called the shortage a nationwide issue.
“This is a national problem. The American Ambulance Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, and National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians have expressed their concerns in their recent letter to you. And I expect you will soon hear from my fellow mayors from across Texas, who are copied on this letter,” Johnson said.
The mayor also pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as a contributing factor causing cities to struggle to provide enough emergency vehicles.
“From order to delivery, obtaining a new ambulance now takes at least 24 months, compared to a 90-120 day wait time pre-pandemic,” the letter reads. “Furthermore, these supply challenges are happening during periods of increasing demands for emergency services, especially in response to inclement weather events.”
Johnson’s letter states that Austin has been using older ambulances, which has also increased maintenance costs. The city of Houston reportedly requested 70 Ford F-150s from Ford, but the company only sent one. The rest of the vehicles will be provided next year at a higher price.
“These delays jeopardize public safety in Texas and across the United States,” Johnson said in the letter. “Considering these challenges, I am asking that you urge automobile manufacturers to prioritize the production of first responder vehicles and work with Congressional leadership on any necessary action to meet these critical public safety needs without delay.”
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata told NBC 5 that the shortage of police vehicles has made their response time longer. Some officers have even been stranded, he added, as several officers may be waiting at the station to be able to take a squad car out.
“You might have six, eight, 10 officers really just sitting at the substation waiting for a car to show up so they can go into service,” he explained.
To address a lack of fire trucks in the city, Dallas Fire-Rescue rented two ladder trucks last month, The Dallas Express previously reported. The department usually has 23 trucks in the fleet, but nine were out of service at the end of September due to needing maintenance.