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Bing: $8 million coming in for new ambulances, police cruisers

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New EMS units and police cruisers were unveiled Monday morning during a news conference in Detroit. New EMS units and police cruisers were unveiled Monday morning during a news conference in Detroit.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Fox 2 has been exposing the problem for years.  Detroit's EMS system is on life support with broken-down rigs causing dangerous delays and response times.  However, the city's rescue and police departments are getting a much needed shot in the arm from the corporate world.

There will be new ambulances in the next four to five months and 100 new patrol cars within 60 to 90 days.

"We want to have the people in the neighborhoods to understand that these are special cars.  We care about the city, and we want to make these neighborhoods safe," said Roger Penske.

Penske and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Detroit's business community, are pouring $8 million into new vehicles to be leased to Detroit Police and Fire.

"I think it's only going to enhance the response time," said Interim Detroit Police Chief Chester Logan.  "I think it goes a long way toward improving moral within our department.  It goes a long way toward improving moral in the community."

The ambulance fleet will be entirely replaced with 23 much-needed EMS units.

"This is going to have an tremendous impact given that our current fleet has 250,000 to 300,000 miles on average and breaks down frequently," said Detroit Fire Commissioner Donald Austin.

It is welcome news for Detroiters and welcome news for the paramedics, who work so hard to save lives.

"I work the streets full time as a medic, and I can tell you that in the last several weeks, I've been out of service for my vehicle breaking down," said Joseph Barney, head of the EMS union.  "It's demoralizing, quite frankly."

"It's definitely a positive day.  It's a good day.  It's a good story for Detroit EMS.  It's a good story for the citizens of the City of Detroit."

Barney is grateful to the business community for making this happen.  The mayor said it was coincidental that the announcement came on the same day that Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr started his new job.  This collaboration was weeks in the making and is comprised of Penske, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Quicken Loans, The Kresge Foundation and Platinum Equity with FirstMerit Bank as the financial partner.  It is the kind of partnership that could truly be the difference between life and death.

"You're going to have a fully functioning fleet, and it will save lives," Barney said.

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