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East Tampa celebrates arrival of new ambulance

After city approves $590K budget request, an emergency service vehicle arrives at Station 10.
City Councilman Orlando Gudes spoke at at a press conference Monday celebrating the arrival of a new ambulance in East Tampa. (Divya Kumar | TIMES).
City Councilman Orlando Gudes spoke at at a press conference Monday celebrating the arrival of a new ambulance in East Tampa. (Divya Kumar | TIMES). [ DIVYA KUMAR | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Oct. 24, 2019

TAMPA — Over the past month, residents of East Tampa said they’ve felt a little more reassured.

On Oct. 4, a new emergency rescue vehicle arrived at Station 10 and has responded to more than 40 calls for service. The ambulance is currently in service from noon to 10 p.m., six days a week — hours identified by the city as peak service hours.

Fran Tate, president of the Jackson Heights Neighborhood Association and Crime Watch, said the new vehicle means shorter wait times.

“We’re excited to have a rescue truck to serve this community,” she said. “That means they’re available to save a life.”

The vehicle came as a result of City Councilman Orlando Gudes’ $590,000 request of the city budget approved in August.

RELATED: Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes gets an ambulance for East Tampa

“We don’t know how many lives could have been saved,” Gudes said. “Put yourself in the shoes of the residents.”

Mayor Jane Castor, who attended a press conference Monday to celebrate the arrival of the vehicle, said the city is currently examining data for calls for service to see where else the city can add additional resources.

"Of course we’d like to predict emergencies ahead of time, but we can’t,” she said. “We’re putting those rescue cars in areas they are most needed.”

Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Nick LoCicero said the new vehicle was benefiting more than just Station 10 and its residents. Calls don’t stream in one at a time, he said.

“It’s an added resource to the city as a whole,” LoCicero said. “While it’s located here, it will help the system as a whole. What this will help enhance is overall reliability and service.”

Beatrice Joliff, who has lived in East Tampa for more than 50 years, said she was stunned when she found out the closest fire rescue vehicle previously available was in Ybor City.

“I didn’t even know we didn’t have an ambulance,” she said. “I think it’s imperative we have one."

Gudes also requested funding for a $2 million cultural arts center in East Tampa, and residents said they have been more hopeful of prospects for East Tampa with the new mayor.

Tate said medical emergencies and health care were the first priority, but he looks forward to discussing more with Gudes and the city.

Jacqueline Wilks, who has lived in the area since 1983, said she likes what she has seen so far.

"It’s good to see the neighborhood getting more support,” she said.