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Former Detroit EMS paramedic accused of call jumping

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By Taryn Asher
Fox 2 News

DETROIT (WJBK) -- Wisam Zeineh helped expose the EMS crisis in Detroit, then left in disgust.  Now this same paramedic is accused of not playing by the rules.

"The Detroit Fire Department is the worst fire department in America.  I say it loud and I'm certainly not proud," Zeineh once told Fox 2.

It was the comment heard across the city from a Detroit EMS worker outspoken to say the least.  However, Zeineh retired last September and decided to help launch Medovation -- a one ambulance company based on Livernois in southwest Detroit.

It's been in business three weeks, and Jerald James, the chief of EMS in Detroit, confirms Zenieh, the president of the company, is already facing several allegations of call jumping when private ambulance companies show up first to dispatched calls in hopes of snagging customers.

"Two complaints by two private EMS companies and two by Detroit's EMS.  They accuse you of call jumping," I told Zenieh.

"Really.  Wow, that's surprising.  It's funny how you devote a career to people in the city and the population and stuff like this comes up," he said.

Not too surprising.  Zenieh received a copy of a letter from the city about the accusations.

How does he get his runs?  Zenieh claims his ambulance was in the area when he was flagged down by people in need or he's alerted by his dispatch center in Livonia.

"When the 9-1-1 calls come in, they don't go to your Livonia office," I told Zenieh.

"People call us separately," he said.

"How do they have this number?" I asked.

"We market.  We advertise," he answered.

Call jumping is against the law and it's essentially stealing around $800 from the city per run, but in Detroit where the EMS budget has been slashed, trucks break down all the time and slow response times in some cases have cost people their lives, does it matter which ambulance shoes up first?

"At the end of the day when you call 9-1-1, you want somebody to show up," said EMS President Joe Barney.

He also said there are enough runs to go around, there is just a legal way to go about it.  And on top of that, he's received two complaints that Zenieh has threatened his members on the job which have since been filed with Detroit Police.

"There's a proper way to conduct business.  You can't be out here threatening to assault people.  If you are jumping runs, this is not Mother Jugs and Speed from the 70s like the movie.  You get an MOU and you get approval by DEMCA and you pull whatever runs that you've agreed to with the City of Detroit."

"It's not true," said Zeineh.  "Deny it all."

Zeineh also said he plans to deny it again at a meeting set for Tuesday with Detroit's Medical Control Authority, who we're told  could decide to pull the licence of the newly formed ambulance company.

"This is an overwhelming amount of attention to something because people feel threatened by someone who has commitment and by someone who has passion for serving this city," Zeineh said.  "So they can be mad.  These are lies."

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