Austin Police are searching for the person who hijacked an Austin Travis County EMS Ambulance on Christmas Day.
ATCEMS Captain Rick Rutledge says it happened around 4pm on Sunday. Medics had responded to a call at the ARCH. Rutledge says the two medics were in the back of the ambulance treating the patient. And that it’s routine to keep the ambulance running during a call, “you need environmental control, heat and air conditioning,” he says adding, “lights, the medical equipment some of it is plugged into it for use.”
While the medics were in the back with the patient, someone jumped in the front he says, then “they took off at high speed, they intermittently used the siren and other warning devices.”
Rutledge says during the incident, one of the medics tended to the patient while the other was on the phone with dispatch and that no one in the back came into contact with the hijacker.
He says the suspect pulled the car over a few miles South of Downtown and then took off. “I think he, for whatever reason realized this is not a good idea and isn't going to work in the long run so he bailed,” he says.
Because the ambulance was part of a crime scene, Rutledge says another ambulance arrived to take the patient to a nearby hospital to continue being treated. Rutledge says the patient was not in distress at the time of the call or during the incident.
This is the second time in December that someone has attempted to steal an ATCEMS ambulance. Austin Police say David Oliver, III stole an ambulance that was parked at University Medical Center Brackenridge Hospital in Austin. They say he was headed towards Killeen when officers chased him down and arrested him.
Rutledge says even though it’s happened twice in one month, it’s a rare occurrence. “They are slightly different events but we as we go forward,” he says adding, “and as the investigation is completed we are going to look at policies and procedures and potentially equipment to see if anything would have potentially made this harder or even less likely than it is in the first place.”