LAFD paramedics have to barter for life-saving supplies

When it comes to fires, accidents and life-threatening emergencies, nearly 4 million people count on the Los Angeles Fire Department

"I think the fire department is fantastic here in LA, they are very good men, there just isn’t enough of them," said LA resident, Jerry Bresnan.

Back in February, FOX 11 News reported that how LAFD is struggling with a lack of personnel, fire stations and ambulances. Now, FOX 11 has also learned from LAFD paramedics themselves that on a regular basis they must barter for medical supplies to get through the day.

"We barter at the hospitals with other ambulances, ‘What do you got? I'll give you two of these for one of those,’" said one paramedic who asked us to protect his identity. 

Another paramedic said "we have to trade equipment between fire stations just to stay in service. We fall below the minimum standards every single day."


Several paramedics told FOX 11 News they operate multiple ambulances with supplies and medications expired or below the requirements established by the LA County Department of Health Services. 

"We are told, ‘Well the expirations have been extended, just keep using it,’" said a 20-year-veteran of the LAFD. "A significant portion of the ambulances are operated illegally because they don't have the minimum supplies delineated by the Los Angeles County Department Health Services, whether it be medications, oxygen masks or other necessities.

LA City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who is also the Chair of Public Safety told FOX 11, "We're happy to look into that, I'm not familiar with bartering for resources. We have fully funded this department, and so I don't understand why that would be the case."

Fire Chief Kristin Crowley blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and a national shortage of EMS supplies.

"What we're doing moving forward is to ensure that we have a direct pipeline to the manufacturers and suppliers, and we're streamlining it," she said "We are very mindful that we maintain our policy to maintain the minimum inventory requirements according to our EMS units and what they're supposed to carry, so that's the path moving forward."  

But the paramedics FOX 11 spoke with said these problems were ignored for too long, and they could have been prevented. 

One paramedic had this to say regarding Monica Rodriguez’ response:

"For the Chair of the Public Safety Committee to admit she is so uninformed and so out of touch with such a life-threatening issue… is embarrassing, but to go on and blame it on a staffing crisis, it’s just disrespectful to the citizens." 

Another frustrated paramedic said, "You have to stop blaming the pandemic and any national shortage. That was over a long time ago. We have suppliers who don’t get paid, I physically saw a paramedic give expired medication that was four months old to a cardiac patient as we had no other medication to give. This is systemic."

All the paramedics FOX 11 spoke to said they reported these issues to LAFD management and to the LA County Department of Health Services, but nothing was resolved. FOX 11 News contacted the LA County Department of Health Services, but officials there declined an on-camera interview and refused to issue a statement.