PEORIA (HOI) - A 61-year-old Peoria woman named Hazel Turner died of cardiac arrest after having a heart attack Friday. Now community members wonder if she could have been saved.
Several residents and loved ones said AMT lost precious time when they couldn't access Miss Turner's apartment because a pedestrian gate was locked and welded shut. "Due to this gate being locked a woman lost her life," said Syntia Jackson who's Aunt lives in Taft. One of the victim's family members, also expressed disappointment saying, "It's not right. All of this is not right at all."
But the Peoria Housing Authority said it was because AMT parked the ambulance in the wrong place. "I'm baffled that you could come down Adams and see where the issue is and not come directly to it," said Carl Cannon.
While AMT said they had a good response to the call and their crew operated as expected. "It appears to me the crews made a good decision. You have to look at the whole scope of the call, not just getting to the patient," explained AMT Vice President Tom Geraci.
AMT was called around 9:00 PM Friday, July 31st to the 700 block of Adams. They arrived after the Peoria Fire Department and parked directly behind a Fire Engine on Adams Street. The pedestrian gates along Adams Street were all chained and welded shut.
The reason for the gates being locked was explained by Peoria Housing Authority Board Chairman Carl Cannon. He said it was done to cut down on "open air drug trafficking" where cars would stop along side Adams and buy drugs from dealers on foot and drive off quickly.
Cannon maintains that AMT should have driven into Taft Homes on Green Street and parked their ambulance directly next to the response location.
AMT said there is much more that goes into response decisions than just getting to the spot fast. "Mr. Cannon is in charge of the PHA. He doesn't get to makes decisions of whats in the mind of AMT team members nor their actions," explained Geraci.
The reasons he says for parking on Adams, it was the address for the call, they are trained to park with other emergency vehicles, and they try to find the safest and easiest exit. AMT has been awarded national honors for their "ground-breaking" work in cardiac care situations.
Several residents we spoke with say the real reason people don't come into Taft Homes, they feel nobody cares about them.