EL PASO, Texas --
When you call 911 with a medical emergency, you would expect an ambulance to show up. But on Wednesday, paramedics from Station 22 in west El Paso had no choice but to respond to calls using a pickup truck.
El Paso Fire Department spokesman Lt. Mario Hernandez said the ambulance was in the shop for about 22 hours for mechanical repairs.
"The safety of the public was never compromised. We do have plans for these types of emergencies," said Hernandez. Those plans usually call for one of the nine reserve ambulances to be put in service.
However, Hernandez said none were available because they were being used at other stations, or were in the shop.
Without an ambulance, paramedics can't take someone to the hospital if they need urgent care. Instead, they would have to wait for an ambulance to show up from a different fire station.
"Let's say there was a major fire, and the fire truck and the ambulance from station 22 were at that incident, you would still have an ambulance backing those units up," said Hernandez.
Rick Montes, a paramedic at station 22, said all of their life-saving equipment is portable. They keep all of it packed in separate duffle bags. Some of the equipment includes a medical bag, a heart monitor and an airway bag with a portable oxygen tank.
The only piece of equipment paramedics can't carry is a stretcher.
"You're getting advance life support and care with that pickup truck," said Hernandez.
The fire department should be getting seven new ambulance in a couple of months to replace some of the older ones.
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