Private Ambulance Firms Exposé - Task Force - Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune article titled,  "Men Of Mercy? Profit in Pain." Written by William Jones as part of the Private Ambulance Investigation.

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper

Reaction: Private Ambulance Investigation: "Hearings End In Ambulance Abuse Cases" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune

Licenses of 3 Firms Are in Jeopardy


"The city completed license revocations hearings in the private ambulance scandal yesterday amidst conflicting testimony by officers and employees of Mid America Ambulance Co. and a statement by one of the officers that one of the firm's locations was a "filthy pig pen."  Peter Fitzpatrick, deputy city license commissioner, said he expects to make recommendations to Mayor Daley this week regarding possible action against the companies.  The three ambulance firms were ordered to answer a total of 22 charges Aug. 5, based on information uncovered by THE TRIBUNE and the Better Government Association. . ."

Follow-up: Private Ambulance Investigation: "Left By Ambulance, Prober Says At Quiz" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"Mid-America Ambulance Co. deserted a victim of what apparently was a heart attack as he lay gasping on the floor of a North Side apartment because the man could not pay cash on the spot, a deputy city license commisioner was told yesterday.  The testimony came during license revocation hearings against three ambulance firms named in a TRIBUNE series last June.  The city filed 22 charges against the companies based on information uncovered during a two month investigation by the newspaper and the Better Government Association. . ."

Reaction: Private Ambulance Investigation: "Ambulance Firms Denied Funds" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"Medicare officials ordered a crackdown yesterday against two Chicago ambulance companies named in a Tribune series for their improper treatment of the ill and injured.  The companies, Mid-America Ambulance, 5651 Madison st., and Scully-Walton Services Inc., 15 N. Laramie av., were informed they can no longer transport elderly persons covered by the federal insurance program. . ."

Reaction: Private Ambulance Investigation: "Investigators Find Three Linked To Mob Control Ambulance Firm" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"The United States attorney's office disclosed yesterday that crime syndicate financial wizards now control all of the stock of the Scully-Walton Ambulance company, 15 N. Laramie av.  The company was a key target of the two-month investigation by the Tribune and Better Government association which disclosed police pay-offs and sadistic treatment of the ill and injured by private ambulance crews.  A Tribune reporter and a B. G. A. investigator worked undercover as ambulance attendants to doument the abuses. . ."

Reaction: Private Ambulance Investigation: "City Controls on Ambulance Services Proposed" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"The city's top health official yesterday urged a city council committee seeking private ambulance reforms to make the Chicago fire department the clearing house for all ambulance calls.  Dr. Murray C. Brown, city health commissioner, proposed a special city-wide ambulance telephone number with fire department personnel answering phones.  A caller would be told a fire department ambulance would respond to an emergency call, if he wished, or he could call a private ambulance service.  Telephone numbers for private ambulance service would be made available to ta caller. . ." 

Follow-up: Private Ambulance Investigation: "City Ambulance Firm Linked to Mob Loans" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"One of Chicago's controversial private ambulance firms has recieved thousands of dollars in recent weeks from a hoodlum-controlled finance company.  The financial dealings between Scully-Walton Service Inc., 15 N. Laramie av., and National Financial Services, 1 N. La Salle st., will be the target of a federal grand jury probe scheduled to begin tomorrow in conjunction with an investigation by postal authorities. . ."

Reaction: Private Ambulance Investigation: "City Ambulance Reforms: Daley Vows More Units, Better Care" - William Jones and Edward Schreiber - Chicago Tribune

Doctors to Train Attendants


"Mayor Daley announced a sweeping plan to improve Chicago's ambulance service yesterday that includes an immediate 40 per cent increase in the number of fire department ambulances and the training of private emergency crews under the supervision of physicians and the Chicago fire academy.  Daley said the first phase of the plan will begin July 1, and will concentrate on improved ambulance service for the 'poor and indigent' . . ."  

Follow-up: Private Ambulance Investigation: "Report Urges Control Over Ambulances" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune

Study Rates Services for Emergencies


"An 18-month study of emergency care in the Chicago area will recommend increased training and control over private ambulance crews and at least 100 per cent increase in the number of fire department rescue units. Organize and directed by the Chicago Hospital Council under a $100,000 grant, the study is expected to be published later this year. . ."

Follow-up: Private Ambulance Investigation: "Ambulance Quiz in Senate Urged" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"State Sen. John Lanigan [R., Chicago] announced yesterday he will seek a state Senate investigation into disclosures of mistreatment of the ill and injured by Chicago private ambulance crews.  Lanigan said he will introduce a resoulution Monday asking that the investigation be conducted by the Senate's public welfare committee.  Lanigan is a member of the committee headed by State Sen. Harris W. Fawell [R., Naperville]. . ."

VI-Private Ambulance Investigation: "Ambulances' Crews Pilfer Hospital Goods for Their Supplies" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"The 79-year-old man had just been pronounced dead in the hospital emergency room, but that was not what was worrying the ambulance driver.  A disposable oxygen mask that sells for 60 cents had been used by the Mid-America Ambulance company crew in an unsuccessful effort to revive the victim and now the mask was missing.  "What happened to that mask?" the driver asked a nurse.  "We threw that away," the nurse replied, pointing to an emergency room waste pail.  "We take and sterilize them sometimes and use thm again," the driver told the nurse as he began rummaging thru [sic] the waste container.  He located the mask and the crew returned to the ambulance.  Then, without even wiping the dead man's perspiration from the vinyl mask, the driver connected it to an oxygen tank to be used by the next patient. . ."

Reaction: Private Ambulance Investigation: "3 Ambulance Firms Banned in Aid Cases" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune

County Welfare Chief Orders Investigation


"David L. Daniel, county public aid director, yesterday banned three Chicago ambulance companies from transporting public aid patients following Tribune disclosures of sadistic treatment of the ill and injured.  Daniel said the order will remain in effect until his office completes a thoro [sic] investigation of the treatment of welfare patients by the companies.  The public aid chief said there will be not interruption of emergency transportation of welfare patients because the calls usually referred to the three will be handled by other ambulance companies. . ."

V-Private Ambulance Investigation: "Ex-State Official Inflates Costs for Ambulances' Welfare Clients" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"Two years ago the director of all welfare payments for the state of Illinois decided "welfare business is good business."  He was so convinced that there was a profit to be reaped from the state's multimillion dollar public aid budget that he quit his post in Springfield, formed a company named Welfare Billing service, and began advertising among Chicago area ambulance operators, doctors, and medical clinics. . . "

Reaction: Private Ambulance Investigation: "Ambulance Quiz Ordered" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune

State Cuts off Welfare Fees


"The state director of public aid stopped all welfare payments to Mid-America Ambulance company yesterday and ordered an investigation to determine if the firm should be banned from transporting welfare recipients.  Harold O. Swank, the state's top welfare administrator, took the action as the Tribune and the Better Government association disclosed incidents of mistreatment of the ill and injured by employees of the company located at 5651 Madison st. Payments to A-Alamo Ambulance Company, a Mid-America subsidiary, were also halted.  The two firms have billed the state for more than $130,000 in welfare fees during the first four months of this year. . ."

IV-Private Ambulance Investigation: "Police Sell Ambulance Cases" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune

$10 is Common Fee


"Sometime on the afternoon of May 11, on Chicago's south side, a black man named James WIlliams suffered a fractured hip.  The cause of the accident is not known and even Williams may not remember where it happened because he is subject to epileptic seizures.  But the story of what happened to this 40-year-old Chicagoan is the story of the hustlers among the city's private ambulance business who buy and sell human beings.  It is also the story of their partners in this grisly business - a group of Chicago policement who are willing to sell people like Williams for $10. The bizarre partnership, which flourishes in all sections of the city, was uncovered during a two-month investigation of the private ambulance business by the Tribune and the Better Government association. . ."

III-Private Ambulance Investigation: "Heart Victim is left in Flat; Had only $2" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"The two-man private ambulance crew stood over the gasping middle-age man in his north side apartment, arguing with a friend of the victim.  "That's all he's got is two bucks?" asked one of the attendants.  "He's gotta have at least $38 or we can't take him.  Ain't he on welfare or medicare or something? We ain't got a chance of collecting on something like this."  The friend shook his head and pointed to the $2 on the table.  "That two bucks is all I could find," said the friend.  "But he's got a job so he'd be good for the money."  Both attendants shook their heads and shrugged.  One of them called his office, Mid-America Ambulance company, 5651 Midison st., and said the crew had been ordered to leave the premises without the victim.  Then they dragged the victim of an apparent hart attack to a kitchen chair where he slumped over the table.    Before leaving the apartment, one of the attendants commited the final indignity. He pocketed the victim's last $2. . ."

II-Private Ambulance Investigation: "Sadism Rides an Ambulance" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"The ambulance siren gave a final growl as we arrived in front of the blighted south side buliding.  I leaped from the vehicle, my heart pounding. It was my first day on the job as an ambulance attendant and my first emergency call.  I had good reason to be nervous.  Reporting for work less than an hour before, I was immediately assigned to an ambulance.  Now, with no training in the handling of a stretcher or the use of oxygen, I was to be confronted with a reported heart attack victim who could be fighting for her life.  The city code requires only first aid training to be liscened as an attendant. . ."

I-Private Ambulance Investigation: "Men Of Mercy? Profit in Pain" - William Jones - Chicago Tribune


"They are the misery merchants and they prowl the streets of our city 24 hours a day as profiteers of human suffering.  Waiting in filthy garages thruout [sic] the city, they prey on families faced with an urgent need for transportation and medical care for a loved one.  They are the hustlers among the city's private ambulance operators and they are waiting for your call for help.  Their business is big business in Chicago.  The multimillion-dollar industry accounts for nearly 1 million dollars of Cook county's welfare fees each year. . ."