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Why a pregnant Richmond woman had to wait an hour for an ambulance after a crash

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Posted at 7:21 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 10:21:37-04

RICHMOND, Va. — A 37-week pregnant mother in Richmond waited more than an hour for an ambulance to arrive after she was involved in a crash.

Latanya Thornton said she was injured when a red light runner hit her car Saturday afternoon. She also had her young children in the car.

Richmond Fire arrived on the scene within seven minutes and requested an ambulance.

“After about 10 minutes the police officer arrived and also requested an ambulance,” Thornton said. “My mom got on the scene and about 30 minutes later and she tried calling [dispatch]. That’s when they told her there was no ambulance available for me and I do not meet the criteria.”

Shannon Ronaldson was delivering food for GrubHub when she saw Thorton getting out of the wrecked car.

“I just saw that she was pregnant, and it scared me,” Ronaldson said. “Her anxiety was really, really high. She was in pain. She was scared.”

While she tended to the injured woman, Ronaldson broadcast the situation on Facebook Live.

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"They're trying to get an ambulance from Chesterfield because no one is available," she told her Facebook Live audience. "This is not OK. There needs to be light to the situation."

Approximately an hour later, an ambulance arrived to take Thornton to Chippenham Hospital.

A spokesperson with Richmond Ambulance Authority said all eight ambulances were on emergency calls at the time of the crash.

Two units were already responding to "Priority 1" calls while another unit was at the scene of a "Priority 1" call.

Three units were en route to hospitals with patients and two squads were at hospitals delivering patients to the emergency department, according to the RAA spokesperson. "Priority 1" calls are prioritized because the patient or patients are suffering from life-threatening injuries.

Staffing shortages have plagued RAA like many industries during the pandemic.

“Recently, our ALS [Advanced Life Support] ambulances have been 56% staffed during the day, and 58% during the night, compared to what our staffing calls for to more than meet demand,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Thornton said she was “livid” laying on the pavement for so long.

“I could not believe they had me out there for over an hour because of this accident and then laying on this ground,” she recalled. “I’m now in the hospital ready to give birth to my baby girl and she was not due until the Fourth of July."

Ronaldson and her family were worried they would further injure the mother if they transported her themselves.

Thornton went into labor at Chippenham Hospital on Tuesday.

RAA is operated by a Board of Directors and does not answer to the City of Richmond. They said they couldn't talk specifics about transporting a particular patient because of HIPAA laws.

Jim Nolan, a spokesperson for Mayor Levar Stoney, sent the following statement:

"We’re very concerned whenever a person in need of medical transport to the hospital does not receive it in a timely fashion. We’re thankful our fire and police departments were on the scene within minutes to render first aid and medical assistance until RAA arrived. Our first responding agencies will be meeting with RAA to determine what happened in this situation."

By City of Richmond code, RAA is the authorized provider for EMS transport, according to a Richmond Fire spokesperson.

Richmond police said their officers arrived and a report was also made for a simple assault between two of the drivers involved in the three-car crash.

This story was originally published by Brendan King at WTVR.