MILWAUKEE (WTMJ) – Policy changes are coming after a woman froze to death when first responders could not find her.
Jolene Waldref, 49, was a mother who worked for a Milwaukee home healthcare company for years.
She died near her bus stop after calling 911 saying she could not breathe. An ambulance was sent out within minutes but the crew says they could not find her.
First responders spent about seven minutes checking the area, but never got out of the ambulance.
During a news conference last week, the CEO of Curtis Ambulance initially said his team did not do anything wrong, but later said he was open to changes.
“I’m looking to avoid any other private ambulance company CEO to be able to stand to a podium and say, ‘We didn’t do anything wrong. We acted according to our policy,’ so yes, I do want it in writing,” 5th District Alderman Lamont Westmoreland said.
Milwaukee’s common council quickly approved Westmoreland’s resolution urging fire and ambulance companies to require crews to exit their vehicle and search for people asking for help when weather or other conditions make it hard to see around their dispatched location.
“Rather than spend time on this for going over what we’ve seen in the video I think what we know is the great part of government is when we react to issues and make changes,” 14th District Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said.
The resolution comes at the same time the city is working on a new contract with private ambulance companies. The council held off voting on a new contract until the companies make procedural changes.
“You’re playing with dynamite. My point is they’re good enough corporate citizens that they will continue to do what’s best for our community in light of a lack of contract,” 11th District Alderman Mark Borkowski said.
The resolution gives the fire chief seven days to take on a review process with ambulance providers and report back to the city.
“The time is ticking. In seven days they’re going to come back to us and say this is what we have. This is our new policy or this is what we’re progressing to. Some say that the seven-day period is a little aggressive. I don’t care because we’re talking about people’s lives here,” Westmoreland said.