Article Source: www.abc12.com
First responders from Swartz EMS were inside a house for 30 seconds helping a patient in distress when someone made off with their ambulance on Thanksgiving.
An alert Genesee County sheriff paramedic deputy responding to the same call realized the ambulance was gone when he arrived on the scene. He quickly found the stolen rig four blocks from the scene with a man in the back.
“I have not seen this in the 19 years I’ve been the sheriff. I’ve not seen this,” said Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell.
He said that within 30 seconds of the ambulance arriving and the paramedics running into a home on East Parkwood Avenue in Burton, 46-year-old Eric Dukes hopped in the driver’s seat and took off on a joyride.
“Dukes has a drug addiction problem and he took the ambulance to get morphine from the ambulance,” Pickell said.
Realizing the ambulance wasn’t at the home it was dispatched to, Pickell said his deputy turned around and found it about four blocks away on Schumacher Avenue.
“When he gets there, the rear doors of the ambulance are wide open. And, as he gets out of his car, he hears a noise in the ambulance,” Pickell said.
That noise was Dukes running into the metal hook the doors lock into. He split his head open, Pickell said. Dukes was still recovering and wore the bandage when he was arraigned Monday.
“This epidemic that we’re having with the explosion of heroin is like the burgeoning tide of heroin addiction and other drugs, of course. And here’s a guy that stole an ambulance to feed his habit,” the sheriff said.
Pickell said he’d like to see an end to the epidemic, but until then he’ll be encouraging local ambulance companies to lock their doors.
Swartz EMS said this was a Priority 1 call and they never do that on those types of calls. But, they are currently looking into new anti-theft devices for each vehicle.